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The Highest Risk Group

The current buzz and concern over the swine flu (or H1N1) and all the talk about "high risk" groups calls for a little comic relief. In the Reader's Digest (February, 2006; p 146) Dianne C. Childers related the following: I had no idea Just how dire the recent vaccine shortage really was last flu season — until I spotted this front-page announcement in The Oldham (Kentucky) Era: "The Oldham County Health Department is now scheduling flu shot appointments. To see if you qualify in one of the high-risk groups being accepted, turn to the obituaries page." How high is the risk if you have to die to qualify for the shot?! There are any number of high-risk groups on the radar screens of government health organizations and the medical community. For example, those at risk for HIV/AIDS would include injection drug users, men who have sex with men, and people having unprotected sexual activity. High-risk people in the current H1N1 outbreak would include people with chronic diseases (lung, liver, heart, kidney, etc.), those with suppressed immune systems (whether caused by treatment or disease), people with diabetes, pregnant women, people aged 65 or older, and young children under age five. Government officials and medical professionals are placing those at high-risk at the top of the list to receive the vaccine. Currently, some who desire the vaccine can't get it, while others would rather take the risk than take the vaccine.

The Bible warns repeatedly about the highest-risk group: those at risk for death! And who is that, you may ask? In a word: everybody! You, me, our children, grandchildren and grandparents, our parents, our aunts and uncles, our cousins and nephews and nieces. Your boss and neighbors and the people beside you on the pew every Sunday. President Obama and Oprah and Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus and Carrie Underwood and Katie Couric and Matt Lauer and Bill O'Reilly and Anderson Cooper. And all the ladies on "The View." And Osama bin Ladin (if he's still alive) and Ahmadinejad of Iran and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong II and all the other saber-rattlers who constantly dominate the headlines and seek to intimidate the world. And your doctor and pharmacist and therapist and banker. Even the funeral home director! And everybody else. The Bible warns if we are alive, we are in the highest-risk group of all — "For it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement" (Hebrews 9:27). Passages like Romans 5:12 remind us that the statistics for death among human beings are sobering indeed: not one in 100, or one in 10, or even one in two die. The death rate is one in one. "All" (Romans 5:12). Death is the highest risk we all face, and no vaccine or shot or procedure can prevent it. But wait. There is One who is no longer at risk for death. Because God raised Him from the dead, Jesus Christ has the keys to the grave and death (Revelation 1:18)! He is "the resurrection and the life." His promise is not that we won't die, but that even when we do, through Him we shall live again (John 11:25). Until Jesus returns all humans eventually face the grave. Are you really willing to risk going to the grave without Jesus Christ?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ