A few months ago at the start of quarantine, I wrote a post called Maybe This changes Everything. In it I spoke about the good that could come out of having to take a step back and seeing things change in our lives. However, as the months have gone by, what has transpired has seemed to be far more dividing. Yes, of course, there are good stories of people coming together to give away food, to help neighbors and the like. But, on the other hand, there is so much division it is overwhelming. We have people on every extreme, from those who don’t believe Covid is even real to those who are too afraid to walk out of their homes and people everywhere in between. We have people for shut down, people against shut downs, people for schools reopening, people for distance learning, people for vaccines, people against vaccines. And of course one of the biggest fight of all, MASKS! People who think masks should be worn and those who don’t. You hear of many people who insist that their rights are being trampled and it is their right to refuse to wear a mask, and I suppose that is true. It is YOUR right, to choose not to wear a mask, to not stay home etc. But just because something is YOUR right, does that mean that you should insist on it? I think this is a question, that we need to ask ourselves, especially if we profess to be Christians.
I just finished reading the book Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. If you ever want to be challenged in your life of following Christ, this book will challenge you. There were stories that had me thinking, how do I even call myself a follower of Christ compared to some of these individuals. Stories of those who truly reflect the verses in Hebrews 11 of those who had an amazing faith. Individuals who set aside everything to treat people as Jesus did. Who gave up home, money, food, comforts, and ultimately in many cases their lives, for the sake of the gospel. These people weren’t concerned with what they considered to be their rights, they were concerned with loving like Jesus. As Christians, we are meant to be followers of Christ. Jesus told us in John 15:20, that “...a servant is not greater than his master.” Do we think that our rights are more important than Jesus? Let’s think for just a minute about this. If anyone had rights it was Jesus! The ruler of the universe, whom through, as the Bible tells us, ALL things were created.
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16 ESV
Who could at any moment have called legions of angels to his side. (Matthews 26:53)
Jesus, who was given ALL authority on heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18)
Yet he gave up everything to come to earth, born as a helpless baby, to grow up poor, to live the perfect life that we could never live and die the death that we deserved to die. He suffered in ways we can not imagine, including facing the full wrath of God because of OUR sins! Can you even imagine having all of that power at your disposal and choosing not to use it and instead allow yourself to be beaten and broken? To be perfect in every way and yet allow yourself to be treated as a criminal?
He did all this so that through His obedience to the Father, through His life, death, and resurrection, we would be able to be adopted into his family as sons and daughters of God. He gave up everything, never once worrying about what his rights were, so that we as sinful, hateful, human beings, could be saved. And we are worried about wearing a mask? I’m sorry, but do you hear how silly that sounds? Are there times when we need to stand up and fight for our rights, of course. However, those rights should never become more important than living out the commands of Jesus. Jesus tells us that all of the commandments are summed up by this, loving God and loving others. (Matthew 22:37-40). Right now, the most important thing we can do as Christians is love God to the utmost and act on that love by showing that love to others. Wearing a mask, social distancing and the like may not seem important to some people, but it is very important to others. So, if your being inconvenienced by wearing a mask during a church service allows your brother/sister to feel comfortable enough to come to service, shouldn’t you do that? Jesus didn’t say, love your neighbor only when they agree with you and act the way you think they should. Shouldn’t we be understanding of different points of view and respect and help each other rather than allow our differences to divide us? The bottom line is this, regardless of where you stand politically, regardless of what you think about COVID-19, there are brothers and sisters who feel differently and we should be no less loving. Let us live out 1 John 4:7-11
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
I speak to myself with this as much as to anyone else. Let us love as we should, the way Jesus loved, with no thought of our own comfort and desires, but putting our brother first. Let’s put our “rights” aside and live as Jesus calls us to live, in love. We need to love like Jesus loves!