Posted: 6/29/20 at 1:40pm. Post by Tony Brooks.
When we received news that masks would be mandatory inside public places in Virginia, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, I was not surprised. Watching other parts of the world and listening to epidemiologists here and in other parts of the world, we knew that wearing masks would be wise for our family and community.
Katrina, my wife, has rheumatoid arthritis. She is on medication that suppresses her immune system, especially when it comes to her lungs. Even a chest cold requires her to come off her medication and move to antibiotics. This virus could be deadly.
You may think that is my number one reason to wear a mask, but it’s not. My wife and I have talked about scenarios for years involving life-or-death issues. We know our faith is in Christ. We know if something happens to us, this not the end. In the case of a home intruder, for example, we would try to help the person who intruded. I have several examples of how I’ve chosen to help people who may have been a threat. I know I was ignorant of the risks, but I felt led to help. You can ask me about my experiences, and I will share them with you.
The primary reason I wear a mask is because biblically, I need to care for other persons. Science shows face masks and physical distancing are the best ways to help keep this virus from spreading. I will share a few scriptures that I believe apply:
Matthew 22:37-40 reminds us:
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:”Love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Everything comes down to these two commandments in this passage. If we really want to love God with all of our being, we also must love our neighbor and think of the safety of our neighbor.
I don’t like wearing masks. I have breathing issues. But I love my neighbor more than my own comfort. If you are more than six feet away and preaching, I understand. I take it off when I preach as long as people are 15-16 feet away. Otherwise I would preach with a mask, even with breathing problems. I have asthma. I have an inhaler that works most of the time to treat my asthma when I need it.
John 13:34-35 reminds us:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
If you are not wearing a mask in church, the grocery store, and other places because of your own discomfort, are you showing love to the senior adults and others around you who are high risk? Are you showing love to your brothers and sisters in your church and other churches?
James 1:27 reminds us:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
There are many senior adults who do not feel safe to come back to church, because not everyone is practicing safe measures by wearing a mask. I am not trying to shame people who have breathing issues and cannot wear them. (I am wondering why you’d risk it if you have health conditions and your church can help with providing worship at home.) You may think only the aged and sick can have serious problems with COVID-19, but my pastor at Madison Heights Baptist Church, Dr. Todd Blake, recently shared a post on Facebook about his sister’s great nephew, Hunter Neeley. Hunter is four months old and struggling right now with COVID-19. Please pray for Hunter and his parents.
Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 8:13, Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
I know some of you are thinking: If I wear a mask, I do not have faith that God will protect me.
This is not about me. It is about setting an example for others. Perhaps we also need to be reminded of what Jesus said when Satan tempted him in the wilderness. Satan suggested Jesus could prove his miracle-working power as Messiah by jumping off the pinnacle of the temple, and he would not be harmed.
In Matthew 4:7, we read:
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Are we testing God by not wearing masks, when we blatantly know that they save lives?
Romans 13:1-2 reminds us:
Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
Some have made this a political issue, but the experts dealing with COVID-19 have stated that masks save lives. We are not being persecuted like in the book of Revelation. In that case, people were dying because of their faith. This isn’t the same thing.
You are asked to wear a mask. It is not political. It is the right thing to do as Christians.