Should blame for the coronavirus be squarely cast at China’s feet? That’s one relatively popular view. It seems to lie behind some appalling racist incidents in Australia.
We want to blame someone. That seems to be a very common impulse because it exonerates us. It also gives a sense of control. We can be tempted to think that if we had been in the situation we would have handled it better and things would have turned out differently.
But Christians can’t think this way. We had to leave that attitude at the door when we came to terms with the fact that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden. Does that exonerate me? No. If I had been the garden instead of Eve, would I have resisted temptation? No. And the outcome is that all creation has been subjected to bondage to decay. This of course includes the existence of viruses which are another outworking of the curse upon humanity and creation.
Perhaps too readily, we rely on science to find the answers – treatments and a vaccine; and we expect our wealth to allow us implement strategies to keep us healthy and safe. We look to our government to roll out the financial packages we need to ride out this tide. I am personally very grateful for the science of epidemiology and the wealth of our nation to make sure there’s testing, healthcare and unemployment benefits. But, despite our wealth and science, we are not in control. We are vulnerable and frail creatures. When we look at history, we realise nothing makes us immune from suffering.
Taking into account the universal effect of the Fall, however, does not mean that there is never any place for personal culpability. It is right and fitting that organisations such as the World Health Organisation, look into the origin and handling of this coronavirus outbreak. If there has been mismanagement, accountability and justice are natural and right outworkings of such a process. Also, we can learn from mistakes so positive action may be taken in the future.
So who’s to blame for coronavirus? Certainly not my Asian neighbours, that’s just pride speaking in the form of racism. In a sense, we all share in the blame. Our sin and God’s judgement which ensued, put this world out of kilter, so viruses kill, resources are not shared equally and relationships are disrupted.
Just as the problem is universal, so too the solution. We look to science and our resources to alleviate our current predicament, but the ultimate answer is found of course, in Christ.
Romans 8:20-21 tells us, “for the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”
Just as Jesus redeems his people he will also redeem his broken creation which groans with longing for his glorification when he will rightly be installed as King. I hope coronavirus will be kept under control in Australia. I hope a vaccine will be found. I hope that we can continue to work together with the nations around the world to care for each other and minimise the adverse effects of this virus. But most of all I hope and long for the day when Jesus returns and makes all things right.