75% of this post will just be selections from 1 Corinthians 9-10. My commentary will be short — I’m just gonna let the word of God do its thing:
Am I not as free as anyone else?
Am I not an apostle?
Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes?
Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord?
Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals?
Don’t we have the right to bring a believing wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does?
Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?
In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.
Yet I have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now.
Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.
When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.
When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”
The most important question we should be asking ourselves right now is this: how should we live among each other as the body of Christ?
If, in your congregation, there is even one, even one person, who is concerned that there is a risk they might catch COVID-19, what should the response of the 99% of the church that doesn’t think there is any danger?
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that COVID-19 is a hoax, that it’s all blown out of proportion by the scientific community, etc. Let’s say your congregation is 99% people who, like you, believe that it is a “right” to be able to go to church without wearing a mask, that it is “un-American” to wear a mask, that to do so would be to live in fear.
But then there’s the 1%.
1 “sheep” who “went astray” from the fold.
What should the good shepherd do?
What did THE Good Shepherd do?
HE left the 99 to go pursue the 1.
HE surrendered his rights to call down the judgment of 10,000 legions of angels on the despicable wretches (aka: you, me, all of us) who spent his entire 3 years of public ministry trying to set him up, to frame him, to trap him, and denied him, spat on him, beat him, crucified him.
What did Paul and Barnabas, followers of Jesus, do in response to Jesus actions?
They surrendered their “rights”.
Nothing, nothing that they “deserved” was more important than showing Christ to be beautiful.
So now Faith, Hope, and Love abide — but the greatest of these is Love.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Friends — “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”. There is a time to express our rights — as African Americans have expressed their rights to equal protection under the laws, as the accused have expressed their rights to a fair trial, as Native Americans have expressed their rights to the sovereignty over their lands that they were promised in their “treaties” with our government… I won’t go on.
This is not the time to demand our “rights” to not have to wear a mask.
This is the time to follow the example of Paul and Barnabas – to not just do what is best for you or me, but rather
to do what is best for others
to share their weakness
to find common ground
to become a slave to all people
to bring many to Christ
As we seek to determine how best to live amongst each other during this confusing time, we must be willing to surrender our own desires, even things we consider our “rights”, for the sake of others — for the sake of the church — for the sake of Him who surrendered his rights to stay in heaven, his rights to play the Noah card again and wipe the planet clean of the whole screwed up lot of us, and instead came down to be one of the creatures he created, to endure our scorn, mockery, and abuse, who did all of this because he loved us that much.
What does this look like in practice?
Maybe those of us who don’t think there’s any safe way to reopen church doors yet to anyone should consider how we might love our sisters and brothers who are deeply craving to return to physical communion with one another — to help them find a way to safely meet in person, even if we will continue to stay at home.
Maybe those of us who think that wearing a mask constitutes an act of submission to the lies of the liberal left, that it “sends the wrong message”, should consider taking the small act of donning a mask during a church gathering or while at the store in order to speak volumes of love to those who have are at high risk of suffering greatly or dying if they were to catch COVID-19.
This is not the time to argue about the science, to dig our heels in to show solidarity with political leaders.
This is the time to surrender our rights.
This is the time to ask, would Jesus have worn a mask?
This is the time to lay down our crowns, to take up our cross, and follow him.