“Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues. One person believes he may eat anything, but one who is weak eats only vegetables. One who eats must not look down on one who does not eat, and one who does not eat must not criticize one who does, because God has accepted him. Who are you to criticize another’s household slave? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand. For the Lord is able to make him stand. One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, yet he thanks God. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
Romans 14:1-8 HCSB
Disputes. We have become a people swept away by dispute. Over the past few months I have been buffeted by the constant argument over things that should not be an issue. I have taken to avoiding the issue all together, because it is so contentious and so divisive. I like my peace.
But God. Sigh…
This passage came up in my reading and I sensed the Lord’s urging that I address it. When I look at the whole issue, I see a strong spiritual connection. All that we believers do in this world is reflective of the Savior of our souls. When we stray in the ways of the flesh, we endanger the great witness that God has given us.
The early church was full of such disputes, of quarrels over what food to eat, what to drink, what day of the week is more holy than the other and on and on. We even have such disputes today, such as bible version, music and even how we dress on Sunday morning. In reality, these things were doubtful, not really that important. I have seen my brothers and sisters in Christ battle each other and fail to represent the Lord.
Now here we are with masks. If ever there was an issue sent by the evil one to trip believers, it is the controversy regarding whether to wear a mask or not. People are taking sides over a small patch of cloth. I have seen videos where people have actually assaulted others for wearing or not wearing a mask in a given situation.
In truth it comes down to obedience. People don’t like being told what to do, especially by the government. When I consider the issue, I align myself with what I think my Savior would want. The passage is a great help. Later on in the same chapter it goes on:
“Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. (I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. Still, to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean. ) For if your brother is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy that one Christ died for by what you eat.”
Romans 14:13-15 HCSB
I got a message from a dear sister who was so confused by all the division, that she did not know what to do as she desired to attend a funeral. I assured her that wearing a mask at the funeral would be appropriate. She was being damaged by all the back and forth as proponents of both views were tossing their “facts” back and forth, all filled with inaccuracies and outright lies, supporting their positions. My heart went out to her. We are not caring for the weaker brothers and sisters. Shame on us!
Believers! This ought not to be!
My view is this. You want a mask, wear a mask. You don’t want to wear a mask, then don’t. Life has consequences, whether good or bad. I believe you should own what you do, regardless. It is not my job to tell you. If you doubt the virus, that is your choice. If, sadly, those you love become infected by you, and succumb, it could have been avoided. Likewise, if you feel the overwhelming desire to control others behavior, than your consequence will be great fear and little peace. People are going to do what people are going to do.
I do believe that God has brought all of this as His way of revealing to us who we are. I am seeing pride on display as so many seek to reject authority, or elevate themselves as the authority. God is the only authority we should be considering. I choose each day to edify and encourage other believers. For those who desire a mask, I will wear one. For those that choose not to, I extend grace. I will not scold or deride anyone for their choices. I am speaking as one quite vulnerable to the virus that is wrecking the world.
God has lain before us an opportunity to show the love of God to others. To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who desperately need to hear it. Getting caught up in PETTY disputes is not glorifying to God. We are living in a time when our nation is on the brink of destruction. I don’t see better days ahead. The Lord is giving us His warning of what is to come. We must lay aside the things that divide us and be about the Father’s business.
Erase the divide my people, consider the others around you. You are responsible for your brothers and sisters in the faith, and you will stand before the Lord someday, as you give an account of all you have done as a believer in Jesus Christ. I for one want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant.
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