LOVE BEHIND MY MASK
As we enter into the fall months, all of us are wondering when we might be able to worship together again. Beginning Saturday, September 5, we will be allowing anyone who wants to attend the taping of the service for our upload to YouTube to do so. However, we will be meeting in the patio until we are able to meet inside. Because of the heat, we will hold our taping at 9:00 AM. With the canopy over us, and the earlier hour, we should be able to escape the heat. We are requiring everyone to wear a mask and we will place our chairs six feet apart. Of course, I know that this bothers some of our church family though most understand the reasons for the safeguards. I would like to emphasize that we do this not simply because the state has required it but because from all that we have been able to learn, it will increase the degree of safety for our people against possible viral infection. I realize that there is a certain amount of controversy over these restrictions. But I believe there are biblical principles that do demand our attentiveness to these precautions. Let me address these.
In the early church, controversy arose over eating meat offered to idols. In pagan cultures, meat was usually offered to an idol before being placed in the marketplace. Many early believers who had been saved out of paganism knew this and were reluctant to eat meat offered to idols. But others understood, as the Apostle Paul did, that an idol was just a chunk of wood and wasn’t a god at all. So to eat meat did not pose a problem to Paul. Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians reveals the presence of differences of opinions over this issue. It threatened the unity of the church. So Paul wrote, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble” (1 Cor 8:13 NASB). Again, in Romans 14:21 he writes, “It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.”
The principle is that one’s freedom or belief should not become a cause of stumbling to another brother or sister in Christ. Presently the wearing of masks and social distancing comes to the front. Many feel like these are not necessary and an encroachment upon one’s rights. For that reason they resist observing these safeguards. But most people are following those guidelines out of a healthy concern over the spread of the virus. As a brother in Christ, whether or not I agree with these guidelines, I should respect the concerns of my fellow believers. Thus when I worship or gather in a group, I will honor the guidelines out of respect for others. My rights are not the issue; my love for my neighbor as myself is the real issue. If I love the Lord “with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, then I will also love my neighbor as myself” (Mark 12:30,31) and I will wear my mask as an emblem of my love.