It seems to be the time of year when “awareness” becomes the watchword. My facebook feeds from friends fills up with female friends declaring they “like it on the floor in the living room”, a statement which apparently has something to do with breast cancer, but is a mystery to me.
Local to me in Cape Town, there seems to be a glut of ribbons being sold to raise “awareness” of everything from breast cancer to homelessness. If I bought just one of each ribbon I could probably make a blanket big enough to keep the cold at bay next winter.
Red, yellow, pink, black, green – so many I don’t know what they all stand for. The obvious ones at the moment are pink (breast cancer) and red (HIV), but there are literally dozens of them. And not one does anything to make me (or anyone else) more “aware” of things than they were.
Growing up I used to look forward to November when we became more acutely aware of the sacrifice made by the young men in 1914-18 and 1939-45. Poppies representing the Somme Valley battles covered the area, and on 11th November at 11am there wasa 2 minutes silence to contemplate the sacrifice. It had such a profound effect on me that the first chance I had, at age 12, I visited the battlefields in France where my great-grandfather had fought. By 14 I’d been 3 times, and every second of those trips on the actual fields and walking the trenches that still scar the landscape remains clear in my mind.
But ribbons? Maybe this generation will look on this symbol the way I do the remembrance poppy, but frankly I doubt it. Here, red ribbons adorn every cemetary. It is a symbol of death, not of hope. And the rhetoric constantly declaring HIV to be not something to stigmatise sufferers serves only to add to the stigma of the illness.
My former employer, Discovery Health, does a lot to try to influence research and influence of this illness. But it again only serves to increase the stigma of the illness.
Diabetes is in my family, and affects my life as well. It is known as a “progressive” illness, which means it gets worse. As my understanding of God has increased, my health has improved – including my need for medication. It has been a year since there has been any increase in my medication, and I fully expect to begin decreasing within the next few months as my sugar levels in my blood are now between normal and low on average.
I have friends affected by other illnesses, including HIV, who have experiences similar to mine. As their knowledge of Christ grows, they become healthier and the enemy begins to lose his hold.
The Awareness we must therefore strive for is, obviously, Awareness of Christ and His power in our lives through the Holy Spirit. We must truly learn to understand CS Lewis’s words “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
This awareness, that we see by Christianity, through the Holy Spirit in us rather than because we see the “proof” first is a primary step towards the Scriptural model of Christianity.
Signs and wonders follow the believer. First comes faith, then action. James writes as much when he says about demonstrating his faith through his deeds. We should learn to do the same. Become aware of the Power that dwells in us. Our ribbon is our actions. Our faith should cause us to act like Christ.
“Christian” was a nickname given to the believers because their actions matched Jesus’s own during His life. They cast out demons – and yes, I do believe in demons as real beings that can be fought and should be – healed the sick and provided for one another. We have lost that level of awareness.
I was honoured and disturbed by a comment a dear friend made to me a couple of weeks ago. We were corresponding about our friendship and how our conversation over the last year has been so intense with regard to God and His power in our lives. I found it comfortable and normal to talk openly and passionately about His power in my life and what I’ve seen, and she spoke of much the same. However she and I are no longer working at the same place any longer, so our conversations have been further apart. She mentioned that nobody talks with her the way I did (and do). My friendship with her is built on this shared Faith and Fellowship. I find it strange that what was so “normal” for us is so alien to most others – including many of my Christian friends.
Awareness is lacking. And we must reclaim it.
We need to be aware of Christ at a far deeper level than we have been. In Revelation 12:11 John writes “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” when referring to the way to defeat the Enemy. The conversation I have shared with this, my closest friend, was nothing more than this description. And the friendship is stronger than many I have had for ten times as long but not had the same level of testimony in.
The awareness has strengthened us.
So be aware of His power. Speak to one another about His work in our lives. Remember His actions and let us remind each other of what He has done in us. Fellowship grows in this way, and our awareness of true power allows us to strengthen in the walk of Christ.
Remember and be aware.