There is a pubic debate circulating recently over the patient-level use of the overdose medication Narcan. The drug long used by EMTs and emergency room staff, immediately counteracts the effects of opioids such as heroin and has already saved more than 10,000 lives according to the CDC.
In recent days there has been a push to put this medication in the hands of the families of addicts to give parents and spouses a way to save the lives of their loved ones. The drug is not addictive and cannot be abused but only seventeen states currently allow a third party, usually a parent or spouse, to get a prescription.
In a recent press conference, Maine Governor Paul LePage made a case against putting Narcan in the hands of families, stating that it was “an excuse to stay addicted.” Perhaps he is right that some people will push the limits of overdosing, knowing they can fall back on the medicine. However, for the many mothers who have saved the lives of their children who were not breathing after an overdose, the issue is a simple one. There is no opportunity to learn a lesson or change your life if you don’t survive.
I believe the attitude of Gov. LePage is a very common one that insulates us from human suffering by taking away people’s human value and turning them into a “social issue”. In the same way, pro-choice advocates also use rhetoric and vocabulary to deprive unborn children of their humanity. They claim to be protecting women’s health and their rights, but the base truth is that people have been permitted to have personal priorities that trump the value of human life. The elderly are not far behind in this slide towards dehumanization. How long before life-saving medical treatment is severely rationed for those deemed “unworthy of treatment?”
I am proud to see the church in America taking on the battle for life on many different fronts, but could we be guilty of making calculated decisions on which people groups are “worthy” of being reached with the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ? It is no secret that as our cities are aging and the once middle-income areas become areas of poverty, there has been an exodus by the church to the suburbs. As a church planter and urban missionary, I have seen the shells of once-great churches left to decay in our urban areas.
I don’t see any malice in this flight whatsoever. We all want our children to be in a new church, a new school, and a new home. However, when will we take some personal responsibility for the vast mission field of lost people just a few miles in the rear-view mirror? Like the abortion activist, will we devalue their eternal souls and say to ourselves, “These people can’t be reached.” Or like those advocating to cut funding for medical treatment for seniors will we make a financial decision that it is “economically unfeasible” to reach the poverty areas of our community?
As with all social issues, the key to avoidance is to insulate yourself from human suffering. Jesus has called His church to rescue people not just from human suffering, but from eternal suffering.
The people who come to serve on mission trips to help us reach poverty areas, often times tell us that it has been an eye-opening experience. It’s not just the hardship they see that changes their perspective; it’s the tenderness of the children when a person comes to show the love of God to them. I believe the key to restoring humanity and reaching people with the Gospel is to learn one person’s name. The rhetoric and reasoning that insulate us loosens all power with a handshake and a name like Tyree, Jasmine or Christopher.
Martin Luther King Jr. in his final sermon preached on the Good Samaritan. He stated that there were two questions on the road that day. The priest and the Levite asked themselves “What will happen to me if I stop to help that man?” The Samaritan asked “What will happen to that man if I don’t stop?” If we are to fulfill the Great Commission, we must have eyes to see past the desensitizing social rhetoric that will surely bear no weight when we stand before our Savior and give an account for the number of our days.