Perhaps the next time someone asks us to put on a mask and our natural instinct is to get on our self-righteous soapbox about how we live by faith and not fear, we should reconsider two things: first, do our lives really reflect living without fear (and do we really want them to?), and second, is that actually how Jesus would respond?
The entire heart of Jesus’ message, as exemplified in the famous words about gaining the world and losing your very self, is that others are the priority. Always. That simply does not align – and in fact completely contradicts – the mission and message of American “Christianity” and its culture.
I’m thankful for opportunities to learn something new, even when the realization seems so obvious that I feel quite stupid. Far more important than my personal feelings is the chance to make a minor temporary change to how I go about my life so I can do my own little part to protect others. Because I believe that all life – any single life – is worth the minor discomfort of me wearing a mask to protect others when I’m in public.
Since I know the people I continue to see on Facebook doing this are incredibly loving Christians and proudly pro-life, I feel compelled to ask why they feel a need to do this? Please take a step back and consider the message you’re truly sending to the people around you, many of whom will lose someone they care about (if they haven’t already) due to this disease.
“Nobody believed in us” and “religious persecution” both have honest and true examples in our world. Unfortunately, both have been so heavily watered-down by ridiculously false claims that they’ve lost all meaning and have become cliché. This is an incredibly fragile time for our country and world. Let’s not lose focus of what’s important by clinging to false narratives that only harm our mission of sharing God’s love with the world around us.
This pandemic is a chance for us to come together as a country and see what’s really most important to all of us as life and the health of our friends, family and neighbors takes center stage. Even in the midst of this pandemic, we’ve seen the unwillingness of certain groups to accept truth lead to greater spread of the disease. It is in this time that we must step back and really self-assess as to whether our sources of information are reliable or if we’re allowing partisan gaslighting to turn us against entire groups of people based on manipulation. We must do better if we hope to survive as a nation through this period not just of medical turmoil but some of the greatest political division we’ve ever seen. In order to do so, we must start with a firm foundation: a foundation of truth.
Imagine for a moment that, instead of real life, this were a movie about a nation-wide and global pandemic bringing our lives to a screeching halt while threatening to kill millions if we don’t act responsibly. Hearing the president and some of his most influential supporters espouse an opinion that we need to sacrifice certain groups of people in order to boost the economy because “the cure can’t be worse than the disease,” we would react with horror at such a suggestion. We would unquestionably hope for the downfall of those leaders, seeing them for the selfish villains they truly are.
But at some point (hopefully sooner than later) it will end. At that point, we’ll be left to pick up the pieces. And there will be a lot of pieces as we discover just how devastating this experience will be for all of us in so many ways – medically, socially, culturally, economically. I pray that as we go through this together (apart, please respect the restrictions for going out as much as you can), we will seriously reconsider some of the deeply rooted aspects of our American personality.