The church remains divided in many areas concerning the COVID 19 virus. Some are anti-vaccine while others are pro. Some don’t like masks and some think it is precautionary. Then there are those who believe it is all a conspiracy. How can the church pull together on this issue? How does Christ command us to behave when there is a strong disagreement within the body? All good questions! The answer is to be humble, be careful what you say, and build others up.
My brothers and sisters, let’s be humble. 1 Peter 5:5 says “clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” We don’t know it all. We have hunches, our research, and even the wisdom we ask God for that He does indeed generously give, but it still doesn’t make us like the all-knowing God. Notice that God opposes the proud who think they know it all, but gives grace to the humble. Be humble. One person could just be so sure that the government is out to get us and we’re headed for a take over and tout their “ I did NAZI that coming jokes”. Another could be certain that we’ve all had vaccine cards our whole lives filled with proof of our mandatory vaccines for the good of the collective and now isn’t any different. Let each of us be humble. In a class I took once the professor said,
Effective communication—meaningful messages being exchanged civilly between people—is rare today.
It is safe to say we live in an age where civil discourse is no longer in vogue. What do I mean by civil discourse? Civil discourse is “engagement in conversation intended to enhance understanding.” Look for this the next time you turn on the news, sit in a pew, go online, or engage in conversation with those around you. Can you tell if the intentions of those communicating are to help you understand or have an enhanced view of a topic? Or is the intent to belittle, insult, or impose personal views on listeners?
If the intent is to belittle, insult, or impose personal views, then the intent is certainly not humble.
Next, let us hold our tongues and keep a tight watch on what we do let past the gates of our lips. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).” Corrupting is defined as change or debase by making errors or unintentional alterations. Your changes to the actual truth could be well meaning, according to your current understanding, and therefore unintentional – but Paul says to the Ephesians and the church today, don’t do it! Shutty your mouthy! Anything we have to offer to the conversation about Covid or anything should be for encouraging others and helping them grow. It should also fit the occasion giving grace to those who hear. All too often lately I have realized that my opinion does not fit the occasion and will not give grace to the hearer, so I do the painful and difficult thing. I bite my tongue. We’re all better off for it.
Lastly, our job is to build others up. Consider the following three pieces of scripture:
- So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19)
- What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up (1 Corinthians 14:26)
- We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, ..(Romans 15:1-11)
Those of us who are mature in Christ should seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14). It is our obligation, and dare I add privilege, to bear with the failings of the weak rather than pridefully tout all our knowledge and expertise on an issue because we’re such amazing Christians and clearly the only ones who seem to “get it.” No matter what we do for or offer to people, it should be for the purpose of bringing hope and building up. That’s it.
Now, all that being said, since I’m authoring this piece, allow me to step up on my soap box for a minute. God has not descended His throne. He also warned us that the world would get worse and worse until He comes. Jesus lived His life in an outward expression of grace and peace, and only got angrily passionate toward pompous religious leaders. He did not attack or oppose the government. He did not make new believers feel stupid or inferior. He gave to Caesar what was Caesar’s and kept his focus on saving souls. Oh that we would do the same.
I’m praying with you and believing with you that better days are ahead, even if not on this side of heaven, because I know the end game! Let us come together, love one another, be patient and kind. Let us share our disagreements civilly only if they can help another understand where we’re coming from rather than bully them to our side. Let us live together in unity because they will know us by our love one for another.
For more on this topic and some reliable resources see here.