The movie Contagion reminds us where the phrase going viral comes from. Set in the present, it tells the story of two organizations (the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization), trying to control the rapid spread of an unknown virus. But it’s not a sensationalistic, techno-thriller, with a single storyline of man vs. mutating virus. Instead, it’s several merging stories that probe the political, social, and moral consequences of a pandemic. It’s more thought provoking than fear producing.
One of the storylines has to do with Dr. Lenora Orantes, an epidemiologist for the WHO. She is sent to Hong Kong to pinpoint the origin of the virus (“Patient Zero”). There, one of her co-workers who is despondent over losing his mother when the village he grew up in becomes infected, kidnaps her and takes her there. The village is now composed primarily of young children. His plan is to hold her hostage until a vaccine is produced and then exchange her for enough vaccine to save the survivors. This ends up being about four months and during that time Dr. Orantes is allowed to move about freely among the people there. And the plan almost works. The trade is made and Dr. Orantes is soon at the airport on her way back to Switzerland. While waiting for her flight, she is given a syringe with the vaccine. She is confused since she already received it during the exchange. She is told that what she and the villagers were given was a placebo. He has more to say but she isn’t listening . . . she’s leaving to go back to the village.
Don’t you love that? I heard a phrase one time—”obeying the unenforceable.” That’s what Dr. Orantes was doing. She went to the village the first time because she was forced to; she had no choice. She went the second time because she couldn’t stay away. That’s what love does, it obeys the unenforceable.
After the golden calf incident (Exodus 32), God tells Moses He’s ready to wash His hands of Israel and start over with just him (v. 10). What an honor for Moses! What a reward for all he’s put up with! But he can’t betray his shepherd’s heart (that he got from his Father), so he argues for his people until he “wins” God over (v. 14). According to Psalm 106:23, Moses stood in the breach for them. He didn’t have to do that. In fact, all he had to do was nothing—God asked to be left alone so that He might destroy them (v. 10). He obeyed the unenforceable.
Is there someone who needs us to do the same? Imagine the possibilities if obeying the unenforceable went viral.