From Jim O'Brien
April 17, 2020

The Messiah Complex

Hi Friend,

Some years ago, American Heritage magazine published a fascinating article about the death of Abraham Lincoln. We were correctly taught that John Wilkes Booth fired the bullet that shot President Lincoln in Ford's Theater, but we didn't know that it wasn't the gunshot that killed Lincoln. He died from the post-assault medical treatment. In fact, of the four presidents who have died after being shot, three died from the medical treatment rather than the assassination attempt.

Immediately after the attack on Lincoln, he was taken to a house across from Ford's Theater and a team of skilled doctors converged over the stricken president's bed. They felt a sense of duty. It was someone they loved and respected. They felt compelled to save him from death and to do that they adopted an aggressive approach to remove the bullet.

So they probed the brain from the point of entry in a vain attempt to remove it. Five different attempts were made. It was like five new gunshots.

The patient died but probably not from the original gunshot. It was a small caliber derringer with little more velocity than an air gun. Actually, many people are alive today with a bullet lodged in the brain fired from far more powerful guns. Doctors in Boston at that time treated similar wounds by closing them up and leaving them alone. The sad fact is, if the doctors had comforted the patient and done nothing else, Abraham Lincoln could have recovered. Was it fair for the patient to pay for the mistake made by medical professionals?

No doubt the doctors were motivated by a desire to save the president. One minute a man is sitting at dinner with his family and the next he is standing over the stricken body of the President of the United States. The life of this great man is in his hands. It was too easy to see himself as the savior of the president-and maybe the civilized world. He had to do something-he saw himself as the Messiah. He lost sight of the real Messiah and rather than saving his patient-he killed him.

The thought came to mind yesterday when I heard the words of the Governor of New York in reference to the declining numbers of coronavirus patients in the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that people, not God, are responsible for the fact the C0VID-19 cases in his state have plateaued. Cuomo stressed that the number of new cases is down "because we brought the number down."

The number of times during my years in the ministry that I have visited with members who have suffered life-altering circumstances as a result of medical overreach is too many to count. There have been times that lives were saved, including members of my own family. I am deeply appreciative-and respectful-of the knowledge and skills of medical professionals. Yet, even the professionals are subject to the same pride that blinds every human.

In fact, the success of the medical field has lifted it to a stage of idolatry. As C.S. Lewis said, man doesn't make idols of bad things. He makes idols of good things.

Our country doesn't need another idol. This pandemic has dethroned celebrities in Hollywood as well as the sports icons, the politicians, the educators and the medical profession. Now we need garbage collectors, grocery store workers to restock the shelves, plumbers to unclog the drains-and family.

The others stand like Pharaoh's magicians watching the water as it turned to blood. They were helpless to change the course of what God was doing. I suspect that the prayers of Christians have done more to slow the plague in New York than all the politicians in the state.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien