“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” -Matthew 7:1
In this unprecedented time in history, country by country and state by state, regulations are changing constantly. Everyone’s responses to these changes are different, and at least in the United States, some very clear lines of division are being drawn. You can breathe a sigh of relief here, because I am not about to tell you my opinion about whether you should or should not follow a mask mandate. Oh, believe me when I say I do have an opinion, and a very strong opinion at that. However, my purpose here is not to belabor you with my opinion and shame you into agreement and compliance with my viewpoint. If you want more of that, you can peruse Facebook or another social media outlet to your heart’s content. Instead, I want to bring a different line of thinking into the equation. Something which I am not hearing discussed on the battlefield of social opinion is LOVE.
As I read comment after comment, I am not observing people showing love and care for their fellow human. Sadly, on each side of the divide, I have seen nothing but judgment. In Matthew, Jesus warned us not to judge one another or we would be judged. Although I have noticed people are emboldened when they sit behind a screen, saying things to others they would never say to their face, it’s not just happening on social media. Thankfully, I have not witnessed it myself, but I am hearing plenty of stories where people on either side of the mask debate are harassing each other in public. My friends, I know these times are difficult, but when did we ever decide that love was not enough? Jesus called us to the highest standard when he told us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). “Love does no harm to a neighbor,” as Paul so eloquently penned in Romans.
When you are out grocery shopping or at work or out for a jog, remember that the person near you with or without a mask on, is someone made in God’s image and dearly loved by him. You may disagree with them or even be upset by their choices, but you can choose to love them right where they are at. This can move us in a direction of unity and help heal the divide.
We cannot love people genuinely, without the love of Christ in us. He helps us look beyond the outward appearances of people and into their heart and soul. I challenge you to look beyond whether someone is wearing a mask or not and ask Jesus how he sees them. Look at their heart and speak life to them, not words that destroy. We will all be held accountable by God for how we treat people. Now is the best time to shift our focus away from carnal judgment to a mindset of love and unity. Let’s ease the burden on our fellow neighbor, instead of heaping more weight upon them. This is how Jesus lived. We can seek him, ask for his help and live as he lived. This can set us free from judgment!
As a matter of mask legality, I am also not advocating for you to lie or break the law. The laws will vary from place to place. However, it’s important to remember that all believers serve Jesus first and foremost. If any law or statute calls for you to violate the word of God or a conviction of the Holy Spirit, you are to obey Jesus, not the worldly authority. If the Christians in China or North Korea obeyed the laws in their countries, they would not be allowed to believe in or worship Jesus at all. In this case, God’s word supersedes these laws. In all other cases, God calls us to obey the governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7). This will go well for us as we live a life that is pure and blameless before all people. This is a life that brings glory to our Father in heaven.
As we continue to navigate these treacherous waters of uncertainty, we must remember that Jesus is our hope, which anchors the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19). Seek him on this issue. Ask him what you should do. I encourage you to love your neighbor as yourself! Maybe this looks like smiling, letting someone go ahead of you in line, giving a compliment, helping someone with a project, paying for someone’s groceries, calling someone to check in or posting something positive and uplifting on social media. I am convinced that though we stand divided at the moment on many issues, God will unify us and heal our land. Let’s partner with Love and make it happen! The best IS yet to come!