Let’s talk about awareness. It’s such an ‘it’ word in our world – coming out of Breast Cancer Awareness month, going into November, which is Diabetes Awareness month, (and COPD awareness, by the way, but you probably weren’t aware of that.) My guess is that COPD doesn’t have the funding that the diabetes foundation has, so it doesn’t get the PR push. Besides, aren’t COPD and lung cancer caused by those evil, nasty cigarettes that the good and pure have told everyone NOT TO SMOKE?! Seriously, people… haven’t you ever met someone with lung cancer who had never smoked? I have.
It seems now that every month has some sort of AWARENESS attached to it and frankly, as a cancer survivor, I’m weary of it. By the end of this month of October, I am ready to rear end cars with pink BC license plates and don’t get me started on the ribbons and bracelets. The truth is, all the awareness in the world hasn’t changed the way we treat breast cancer in the past twenty-five to thirty years. Some aspects of treatment are the same from fifty years ago! When I asked my radiologist why that was so, he stumbled and stammered and finally said sheepishly that there is a lot of research going on. Really? STILL?! Then why are women still dying?
For women in the U.S., breast cancer deaths are higher than those of any cancer other than lung cancer, according to Breast Cancer.org. One in eight women in America will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. While the statisticians tell us the numbers have been improving, I can’t help but wonder – where does all the money go???
For instance, a few weeks ago I received an invitation to a local hospital’s fundraising event for breast cancer. It looked like it would be a fun thing to attend, but when I read the cost of the tickets and picked my jaw off of the floor, I threw the invitation away. Let’s just say the cost was in the five figures. My husband and I are still paying off hospital, doctor, and treatment bills; who can afford ‘galas’ and ‘balls’ when one has had breast cancer, (or any other type of cancer, for that matter)? While I appreciate the generous, wealthy donors who give to the cause, I would plead with the foundations not to spend a large chunk of the money on entertainment, or gifts and party favors to give away, or the fabulous prizes for their ‘silent auctions’. Would the donors truly not give their dollars if you didn’t wine and dine them? Thousands of women are suffering through some rather barbaric treatments and dying every year; isn’t that enough reason?
Now, let’s stop for a moment and juxtapose this entire argument onto people being aware of the gospel…do you see where I’m going with this? While there may remain a few, it is probably fair to say that most in America have heard of Jesus and that He is much more than a curse word. I may even stretch it so far as to state that there are a measurable amount of people in these United States who are not cognizant of the knowledge that Jesus saves from sin, whether they choose to believe in sin or not. While there may be some, the majority have been informed by a relative, a televangelist, their preacher, a neighbor, a friend, a tract, a billboard or a bumper sticker – any number of ways. The point is, people in America have an awareness that Jesus is the answer to their broken lives.
However, and this is a huge ‘however,’ if the only thing people ever have is awareness, it will profit them not one whit. If the disciples of God are satisfied with our friends, neighbors, co-workers, relatives, store clerks we meet, simply having a surface knowledge of our Lord and Savior, then I fear that we, the Church, may have to give some sort of an account for their continued cancerous sin, which leads them into an eternal hell. We, the Church, seem to have a lot of money for nice buildings, big staffs, the latest technology or the newest music, instruments, lights, and video equipment, but what about those folks for whom those things mean nothing? What about those who need to be more than aware, who need the Christ of the gospels lived out in front of them?
It isn’t as though we need to memorize the New Testament or the book of Romans in order to have the ability to take someone beyond a superficial knowledge of Jesus. No, but there is a necessity to know Him, know as in to be intimately acquainted with Him, (Ps.9:10).
I wonder if we do what Brennan Manning said in his book, The Lion and The Lamb: We settle into a well-worn groove and lose the stuff of gospel greatness. We become like everyone else, fail ourselves and the community by failing to respond to the living, vibrant, magnificent image of Christ that is within us waiting only to be expressed.
We aren’t called to be anything other than a disciple, bearing the image of Christ to the confused, lost and dying world in which we live. They have done their research concerning what they believe or don’t believe. They think they are ready, set, but they can’t go unless we show them the Way.