“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment (Luke 16:27-28).’”
There is a heartless killer loose on our streets and the mounting death toll is beginning to attract major attention. An opioid epidemic is sweeping the U.S. and it is no longer a secret. In Baltimore this year, fentanyl deaths are greater than homicides.(1) The President has deemed it a national public health emergency (2) and a West Virginia Senator says that we are losing generations to this scourge. (3)
On the front lines of this war are the Medical Examiners who are seeing their workloads increasing to such a level that they are overwhelmed. (4) There were 64,000 overdose deaths nationwide in 2016 and the numbers are increasing this year. Dr. Thomas A. Andrew served as the chief forensic pathologist in Concord, New Hampshire for more than two decades but he quit last month preferring to minister to young people to stay off of drugs. He said, “After seeing thousands of sudden, unexpected or violent deaths, I have found it impossible not to ponder the spiritual dimension of these events for both the deceased and especially those left behind.”
Medical Examiners, such as Dr. Andrew, must be bewildered with the steady flow of cases for which they must investigate and finally attribute to opioid overdoses. They are left to ponder the waste of life due to the poor decisions of too many who followed a deadly course. Dr. Andrew spent most of his career exploring the causes of such deaths, but as he now embarks on a quest to consider the spiritual aspects of this epidemic, what if he were assigned to be the Spiritual coroner for the more than 150,000 people who die each day? The backlog would be even greater but would the cause of death be much different than the post mortems he had been performing on the bodies of the deceased in Concord?
Most of the millions who pass from this world every year die in spiritual ignorance that their addiction will kill them. God lamented that His people were destroyed from a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). What an awful waste of life to live without ever knowing God, and yet billions have already and will still. Some spiritual deaths will be attributed to those who knew the risks but mistakenly thought they could quit their addiction at some later date. The Bible warns against postponing the commitment to self-control and repentance (Acts 24:25, Hebrews 3:15). Countless others were subtly drawn away by the allurement of pleasures and realized too late that they could not escape the deadly trap (James 1:14-16).
The awful truth that such autopsies would reveal is that most followed similar foolish paths that ended in death (Proverbs 14:12, Matthew 7:13). Only a few, have and will, follow the narrow path that leads to life. Moses recognized the addictive allurement set before him and wisely got out of a lifestyle that endangered him spiritually (Hebrews 11:24-26). Lot was surrounded by an entire city hooked on deadly drugs and narrowly escaped with his life and his daughters but his wife backslid into death (Genesis 19:16, 26). Noah and his family escaped a similar fate by faith (1 Peter 3:20) while all of their contemporaries perished.
What Dr. Andrew intends to do by warning young people of the deadly dangers of drugs is noble. As Christians we have been commissioned to point others to Christ as the Apostle Andrew showed us (John 1:40-42, Matthew 28:18-20). Every day souls are dying. Let us go therefore.
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).”