The number one disclosure that people are sharing with me—the one that is causing the most pain—is how divided families have become about the virus and what to personally do about it … or not. Christmas gatherings are bringing the issues front-and-center. Family relationships are being torn apart. Masks, social distancing, vaccines … people have strong opinions about it all. There are a lot of discussions about rights and over-reaching governmental interventions. I am right there in spirit. Yet, I am compelled by the heart of the LORD to also include grace and love to the discussion.
The enemy (whether spiritual or in the natural) wants us divided.
We don’t have to be divided. We can live in the holy tension between the extremes of fear and arrogance. However, it will take a WILLINGNESS to put the importance of relationship above rights, in order to work. Stay with me for a moment and allow me to share some thoughts for your consideration.
THE PRINCIPLE OF LOVE
Relationships should be our top priority in all things. God is truth, but also love. I am not advocating co-dependance or anything unhealthy, but when we think about the decisions of our lives, relationship must be a primary key in our decision-making. We do not want to do anything to create unneccesary offense, or in arrogance bring diminishment to others. There is nothing wrong with having opinions, or even strong ones … however, the Scriptures exhort us in Philippians 2:3 …
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."
In the original greek ’selfish ambition’ means trying to convince others of your own opinions above others. The word that gets translated ‘conceit' is arrogance. It could be translated, “Don’t try to push your arrogant opinions on others, believing you have the corner on the truth.
'Lowliness of mind' is simply humility. A humble person is not one who has no opinion, or is simply wishy-washy and will just go this way or that. Humility often has a strong opinion, yet for the benefit of the other/the relationship, will set aside the need to force it on others. First Corinthians 8 adds to this principle by advising us to set aside our liberties for the benefit of another person, so as not to cause an opportunity for offense.
I don’t like masks. I think that they are unhealthy to wear over long periods of time. They may even be the source of illness when forced to do so. I have my doubts that they are very effective in keeping me from catching COVID, but they may be helpful in protecting others who are in a high-risk category. Surgeons wear masks to protect their patients during surgery. So, there is a case to be made. I could unknowingly carry it and pass it on to someone who would become very ill or die. I don’t want that. My personal rule is to lay aside my liberty of not wearing a mask, when it comes to protecting the health of another who is in a high risk category (such as my mother who is 85 and has some lung issues). Otherwise, I tend not to wear a mask, unless required by law, rule, or the preference of another I am with.
While I will not compromise the truth, and will share my opinions if asked … I want love to be the overflowing character of my life. I want peace—as much as it depends on me—to fill my relationships. I want to be viewed as gracious … not as argumentative.
This world system, the people who think they run it, this virus … it has stolen so much from us this year. Let’s not let our relationships be divided and stolen from us during these holidays and their gatherings. Let us agree that it is ok to have different opinions, but to unite in genuine love and relationship together. Remembering that our Father in Heaven and His Son and the Spirit are the God of UNITY … not division. It will take a commitment from all sides.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
-Your Savior & Brother, Jesus