And why not? Each one has been transformed into a magnificent cause under the management of at least one well-funded non-profit. And each one is regularly brought to our attention through well-publicized “awareness” campaigns – the thinking being, I suppose, that if you’re aware of such a cause, you’re likely to make a donation, desperately needed for things like research and lobbying efforts and covering generous executive salaries.
Just one example for the football buffs out there: You have no doubt noticed that most players add shocking pink to their uniforms each October, thereby "raising awareness" of breast cancer. After all, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And if more people are aware of breast cancer, more women will undergo mammograms, more biopsies will be performed (most of them negative, thankfully), more lumpectomies will be conducted, more radiation and chemotherapy will be prescribed, and more cash will be flowing into the pockets of nearly everyone concerned (the exceptions being patients and their insurers).
But the jury is still out on the big question: will more women's lives be saved? Yes, the healthcare industry is catching more cancers earlier. But the slow-growing ones may not have ever killed their hosts, who end up being subjected to life-diminishing therapies; and the fast-growing cancers can apparently not be stopped permanently.
So the upshot may be a great increase in the number of cancers detected, a great increase in the number of "cures," but possibly a net improvement of zero in actual lives saved. I'm no statistician, but it really makes me wonder.
Don't get me wrong: There are a number of women I care about, and have cared about, who have fought the good fight against breast cancer, and are doing so to this day. My prayers are with them for stamina and peace and healing and whatever else they need, and with their doctors for wisdom.
But I have a question: Are these women and their loved ones really better off because of these "awareness" campaigns? Yes, they raise a lot of money for the organizations whose job it is to raise money for themselves, as well as for "sister" organizations like Planned Parenthood. And they certainly make participants and supporters, both individual and corporate, feel good about their contributions; who can argue against a boost in self-esteem?
But here's a far more important question: Are we raising awareness of the wrong disease?
The fact is, underlying all this frantic "awareness" activity is the idea that longevity and luxury are the ultimate goals in life -- that, in the end, living just as long as we want to live, and living well, are our entire reason for being.
I suppose that makes some sense for those clinging to the idea that this life is all there is. But these folks are tragically wrong, because it's demonstrably true that we will all live eternally one place or another. And it's demonstrably true that our personal destinations for all eternity depend exclusively on our relationship with Jesus Christ.
This is what makes it so sad that most of the world, led by a spiritually blind news media, spends so much time and energy and share of mind on these eternally useless fund-raisers.
I think we Christians should launch our own awareness campaign. Maybe we could get whoever decides these things to declare a Jesus Christ Awareness month. We could suggest a veritable explosion of media coverage on Resurrection Day.
Just think of the message: The disease is sin, the solution is repentance and faith leading to salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, and the cure is eternal. And no donations (or brightly colored accessories) are needed! How could it fail?
It may take us some time to get our ducks in order on this one. But the good news is that you needn’t wait. If you have yet to repent and trust in Christ for eternal life, you can do it today.