The Privileged Life: What’s Your “R-Naught”?

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction….” Psalm 103:2-4a

As our nation gingerly cracks open the door on shutdown restrictions, the biggest concern is a “relapse” of coronavirus—that its ruthless march through neighborhoods, workplaces, and public sites will pick up pace again after a slowdown.

It’s a viable worry. This tiny organism known as COVID-19 is wickedly smart in its reproductive tactics. Not only does it jump from the sickly to infect the healthy, it may be just as easily spread by people who don’t have any symptoms at all. It hides in plain sight, ready to pounce on its next victim…and in this case, that means “victims” in the plural.

Many folks might assume they don’t pose a problem because they don’t feel ill. But while some are merrily resuming social norms with a la-dee-dah attitude, they could be walking hotspots spewing out all kinds of coronavirus micro-particles. Ugh.

All of this is based on an epidemiological term called “r-naught” (sometimes spelled as “r-nought”) and shown as R0. It refers to contagion level, with a number assigned to estimate the potential rate of spread—how many people will get sick from one person carrying a particular disease.

For example, the Spanish flu of 1918 was estimated to have an R0 of 1.8—every one person who contracted that particular H1N1 flu was liable to infect another 1.8 people (in other words, every 10 people would infect 18 more). The seasonal flu that runs around every year has an R0 of 1.3. In contrast, measles has an infection rate of 12 to 18, making it one of the most contagious diseases in the world.1

The U.S. Center for Disease Control has published a set of potential scenarios for long-term planning in the current coronavirus outbreak, estimating it having an R0 of anywhere from 2 to 3, with a best estimate of 2.5.2 Healthcare professionals, government leaders, and epidemiologists want to see that number get below 1 in their efforts to reduce the caseload.

Learning about the communicable nature of this disease has made me wonder…how contagious am I? Not with coronavirus, but with the love of Jesus?

Fellow Christ-followers, we’re called to be salt and light, spreading the good news of His salvation to all parts of the world. Not all of us are bestowed with the gift of evangelism, but we are all gifted with the Holy Spirit who gives us divine appointments to share His love.

I’m not so sure many people “catch Jesus” from me, especially in day-to-day casual encounters in the community outside our home. Do I wear that attractive fragrance of His abundant life? Do I shine with His light? How often do I speak words of kindness that shower others with joy and peace? Do I confront sin with righteousness and mercy? Do I reach out to the hurting to offer His hope?

Oh, I have plenty of excuses. And it doesn’t matter if I wear a cross or not. The only way for someone else to tell that I am “infected by His grace” is if I show it in my actions and words.

Ask God to increase your faith and personal “R0 in the weeks ahead. Pray for opportunities to be His light-bearer to a troubled, darkened world. Let His love pour through you to others who so desperately need Him. Pray that His Holy Spirit will ignite a Pentecostal flame in our nation that will spread revival. I’ll join you in those prayers!

Holy Spirit, Comforter and Life-Giver, please fill our hearts to overflowing with Your gifts of love, joy, peace, and patience. Grant us a contagious faith that others want to catch. Send revival, not just in our nation but around the world. Turn our faces from fearful into radiant reflections of Jesus Christ to others. In Your blessed name, Amen. 



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(Note: Photo is what’s left of a gladiator allium bloom….)

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