• Rachel Paige

Will They Know Us by Our Love?

They will know we are Christians by our love.

I've been thinking about that phrase a lot lately and it is always immediately followed by "but will they?"

Christians are called to love. To show the love of Christ. To serve others. Sacrifice for them. Help them.

Throughout the pandemic, the image I have gotten of Christians has not been love. It has not been a selfless desire to serve others. The most prominent image I've gotten has been a selfish desire to protect their personal freedoms over the safety of those around them.

Yes, I'm talking about masks. I never thought I'd see the day when a piece of fabric would become such a politically charged issue, but here we are. If you want to talk about the efficacy of masks, you can send me a message. But masks work. They've been proven to significantly reduce the spread of covid-19.

But here's the problem with masks: they only work if we are focused on others. See, wearing a mask doesn't keep someone from catching the virus, but it does keep them from spreading it. Meaning your mask doesn't protect you; it protects everyone you come in contact with.

This also means that your decision not to wear a mask has virtually no impact on your own health and safety but puts the health of everyone you interact with at risk.

I wear a mask to work. I wear it the whole 7 hours I'm there. I wear a mask to the store. I wear a mask to see my parents. Why? Because I want to protect people. I am doing my small part to slow the spread of a disease that has already killed over 400,000 Americans. 439,830* at the time I'm writing this. It isn't always the most comfortable thing, but it isn't about me. Wearing a mask is an act of selflessness. It's an act of sacrifice. It's an act of love.

They will know we are Christians by our love.

Because we have freedom of religion in our country, most churches can't be punished by not requiring masks. I want to take a second here to say this post isn't directed at churches who aren't requiring masks. I understand that many of them feel like they can't require masks because they don't want to turn people away. The church is supposed to open to everyone. This is directed at the people causing churches to have to think that way. The people who don't want to wear a mask to church.

Because what image does that send? Is that love?

It's possible to sit in church with a mask on. If you can go to the store with a mask, you can go to church with a mask. You're sitting and listening, much like kids at school are. So if school can wear masks, why can't churches? What about worship makes it physically impossible to wear a mask?

Nothing. The answer is nothing.

So what's stopping Christians from wearing masks to church? If it isn't because worship isn't possible with a mask on, then there's only one other reason. They don't want to. They say it's uncomfortable. They say it's a violation of their personal freedoms.

I would like to ask where in the Bible we're called to be comfortable. Did Jesus say to love our neighbor... unless it was uncomfortable for us? And where in the Bible are we told to worry primarily about our personal freedoms? Where are we told it's okay to put other lives in danger as long as our freedoms are protected?

I can see where this idea comes from. That's the American way. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Personal freedoms. Individual rights. But guess what? Jesus doesn't care about the American constitution.

But He cares about you. He cares about the people at your church. He cares about the people who don't go to your church. He cares about the over 400,000 Americans who have died from covid-19.

And He cares about your actions. He cares about your heart. He cares about how you're showing love for others. His love. How you're sacrificing for them as He did for us.

They will know we are Christians by our love.

But will they?

As we sit in church with no masks on? As we fight against the safety of our community to make ourselves comfortable? As we contribute to the spread of a disease that has already killed more Americans than WWII?

Will they know we are Christians by our love? Or will they know we are Christians by our selfishness? Our desire to protect our freedom and comfort? Our unwillingness to change our ways to save thousands of lives?

So next time you go to church, I want you to ask yourself what image you’re sending. Are you showing love?

P.S. if you want to talk the belief that masks are unnecessary because God will protect His people from Covid, feel free to check out this post, which talks about the difference between believing God can do something and God will do something and why the latter isn't trusting God as much as forcing our plan on Him. That post is talking specifically about the stance that prayer will cure mental health conditions, but the content is transferable to this situation.

I also wonder what that means for the 2,224,713* (at the time I'm writing this) people who have died from covid-19 globally. Did God not love them enough to save them? What makes you any different from them?

*Numbers taken from WHO COVID-19 report for February 3rd, 2021

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