Is not testing really a good idea? You probably think I’m asking about COVID-19 testing. Well, I am, sort of. But only a little bit. Mostly, I’m asking about something else. However, looking at the question with an eye towards COVID does help come up with a valid answer for my actual topic.
I think pretty much everyone’s heard the U.S. president’s claim that we’d be better off if we tested less for COVID. Somehow, he appears to believe, or at least wants us to believe, that testing causes people to get COVID.
Of course, that’s just not possible, unless the testing process itself infects people, which it doesn’t. Testing does exactly what it should do. It identifies people who have the virus already.
If, as he wants us to believe, testing is causing most of our cases, then the statistics would be much different. For instance, the politicians, sports players, and rich people who can afford testing every few days should all be infected. That’s not happening.
What is happening is the rate of hospitalizations goes up and the number of deaths go up as more cases are found. Events take place with crowds of people without face masks, cases go up, hospitalizations go up, and deaths go up, all according to the lag times seen world-wide with this virus.
For COVID, is not testing really a good idea?
Ultimately, testing gives either peace of mind if it’s negative, or cause for concern if it’s positive. Maybe for a person, a group of people, a place of work, a small town, city, county, state, Etc. That is, if we believe that testing is valid. When we fail to accept that testing is a good thing and that it’s valid, those warnings coming from concern over rising cases are also ignored.
So yes, as far as COVID is concerned, the reality is that testing is a good idea.
As I said though, COVID testing isn’t my point.
Rather, my point is about us, Christians, testing our faith and whether or not we’re really living life the way Jesus taught. In other words, for Christians, is testing a good idea?
For Christians, is testing a good idea?
If we follow the example of King David, the answer is clearly yes.
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
Ps 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
As Christians, we know (or should know) that God knows everything about us. In fact, He knows what we’ve done in the past, what we’re doing now, and everything that we will do in the future. Nothing’s unknown to Him.
Some examples follow.
Ps 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Ps 139:3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Ps 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
Those things could be a comfort. Or, they could be really scary. It depends not on God, but on our point of view.
It could be scary, if we expect God is out to get us for every little thing we do.
But that’s not the point of view we should have. In terms of our testing question, it’s like saying that not testing really is a good idea. It’s like when we were kids, and we thought if we couldn’t see our parents then they couldn’t see us either. But somewhere along the line, we learn that wasn’t true.
As kids, more thorough testing of whether or not our parents could see us would have kept us out of a fair amount of trouble.
By the same token, realizing that God’s always watching us can also be an incentive to live a better life. To live a life that’s closer to what Jesus taught.
But as I said, scary is the wrong way to look at God. Remember, He already knows everything we’re going to do. And still, in spite of that, He also sent Jesus to pay the price for all our sins. Every one of them. And Jesus did come to earth, suffer, and die, already knowing exactly why. Already knowing every sin that was committed and would be committed.
Honestly, that hardly sounds like someone to be afraid of, does it? If you think so, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate? I know this isn’t the vision of God in some denomination of Christianity. Certainly not in Islam. But it is what God says about Himself in the Bible.
Even with all that we just looked at though, there’s no actually testing taking place on our part. Sure – God’s looking. He knows the results of the “testing”.
But we don’t!
So David closes Psalm 139 with these last two verses.
Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Ps 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
If testing is a good idea, then …
OK – we see that God already knows everything about us. In essence, if we were to test ourselves, He already knows the result.
Question – if you take a COVID test, do you want to know the result? Answer – I assume the answer is yes, of course I want to know the result! Seriously, why take the test if we don’t want to know the result?
So what’s the difference with Christianity? At least one of the reasons we have for becoming Christians is to spend eternity with God. Do we then really want to go through the rest of our lives with absolutely no idea as to whether or not likely to achieve that goal?
God knows. Why don’t we want to ask Him how we’re doing? The weird part is that He also knows whether or not we’re going to ask. And if we do ask, whether or not we’ll, as David wrote, allow God to lead me (us) in the way everlasting.
Is the result of the testing a foregone conclusion?
Now, I know some of you belong to a denomination that believes “once saved always saved”. Something along the lines of say the magic words, that non-existent sinner’s prayer” that isn’t in the Bible, and you’re saved. Done deal. No matter what else we do in our lives. We can do nothing, and still be saved. We can live a life full of intentional sin, and still be saved.
But doesn’t that put us in the position of being able to cheat God? To lie to Him? Just say some words, with no intent of ever living up to them? Or even to decide after a time that we prefer the old life of sin? Maybe get tired of being a Christian, for all practical purposes opt-out? And yet, somehow, we still think we’re going to be saved?
I find that really, really hard to believe. Impossible, actually. How often do we read that Jesus knows what’s in someone’s heart? Surely, knowing everything we’ll ever do, He knows whether or not those words we say at baptism have, or will have, any real meaning to us. Do we think we can fake Him out? I don’t.
Conclusion – Is not testing really a good idea?
Is not testing a good idea? I don’t think so. I think it’s a horrible idea.
With COVID, if we refuse to get tested, even when we’re deathly ill, we’re most likely going to end up in one place. The morgue. An early test may have been able to save our lives. Maybe not. But at least we cared enough about our life to get a test and try to save our life.
Isn’t it much the same way with our eternal souls? If we refuse to ask God how we’re doing and to guide us (get tested), even though we’re living a life of sin, we’re most likely going to end up in one place. And it’s not Heaven. Maybe asking won’t help, because we’ll ignore God or say “No” to Him. Maybe not. But at least we cared enough about our eternal soul to ask God (get a test) and try to save our soul.
What do you think? Will you be turning Psalm 139 into a prayer for your life and your soul?
Will you pray (ask for the test and the results) –
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.