A Plea for Reasonableness

I hesitate to post this. I have read numerous blog posts and articles by people intending to bring clarity to the current situation in our world with COVID-19 and to the consequent actions that Christians should be taking.

Facebook has become a hotbed of fruitless debate resulting in injured relationships and an apparent lack of the love that Jesus said would identify His disciples. This saddens me deeply. When we have the opportunity to be a light, we are doing more to generate heat than anything else.

Being a fan of John MacArthur, I read his statement on behalf of the elders of Grace Community Church in California with great interest. I’m not linking you to it here because I suspect that many have already seen it. I hope you will read this article with equal interest. I am not proposing any universal response but rather, I agree with this author’s assessment that we ought to be showing more grace and that our current situation is much more complicated than we would like it to be. Accusing others of “not knowing what the church is about and of not shepherding their people” is unhelpful at best.

Regarding the science…we are all learning. Comparing this “pandemic” to others in history is certainly beneficial, but since our response in this situation has been much more immediate and intense than at any other time in history, it is only partly helpful. We can’t know what would have happened if we did not go to the extremes that we have. We can only assume that our conclusions are correct. Quoting medical personnel who agree with what I already think (when I have minimal medical education, except through the internet) is only as helpful as those who quote medical personnel that disagree with me because it supports their argument. We are basically even on that score.

We are all appealing to the same 3 passages of Scripture (Hebrews 10:25, Mark 12:31 and Romans 13:1-7). We all believe that they are abundantly clear in their instruction. Yet we have a variety of explanations as to their precise meaning and their application to us today. I have avoided overt statements, not because I have no opinions but because I don’t think anyone is listening…we are all pontificating and trying to make sure that everyone else hears our opinion.

Instead, I feel compelled to make a plea for reasonableness. When Paul says we should “let our reasonableness be known to everyone” (Philippians 4:5), he used a word that meant “gentle, fair, equitable, mild.” I wish we would see more of that. I will have friends who disagree with me on this score. They will believe that I should be more direct, more decisive, more concerned with shepherding my people well. I accept those accusations. Perhaps they are correct. We are all striving to be like Jesus and can all point to times in His life when He acted the way we think we are acting. But reasonableness requires humility. It requires that I allow others to disagree with me…even to think I’m wrong or ungodly. In the final outcome, I must answer to my Lord and am tasked with reflecting His image to the world around me. So I’m doing my best. I wish you well and pray God’s grace on you as you also seek to be a light in the darkness of our world and in the uncertainty of the current situation.

Let’s love God and long to worship Him together. Let’s love our neighbor, even when it is inconvenient. Let’s demonstrate submission to our governing authorities even when it is frustrating, as long as it doesn’t cause us to sin against God. And let’s be reasonable!

Under the spout where the blessing comes out

Whatever your take on the nature of the current world situation or its severity, or even the response of our various government leaders to the crisis; I think we can all agree on a few things.

  1. The impact of the current pandemic is multi-faceted. It is physical, economic, emotional and spiritual.
  2. The way this affects you will vary from the way it affects the next person. You may catch the virus. Another person may lose their job. Yet another will suffer great anxiety. Many are feeling the spiritual loss of not being able to enjoy physical community as we worship God.
  3. Most of us are required to restrict our regular activities. Churches are putting services and other content online like never before. Restaurants are handing your food through your car window. Large businesses are limiting the number of people that can be in the building.
  4. Things that formerly absorbed so much of our attention are no longer available to us. There are no sporting events to watch. We can’t catch the latest movie release. We don’t want to watch the stock market or the news…that seems to be the same story every day lately; and it’s not been good.
  5. Even home life is different. Many are working from home. Children are being educated at home. Families are spending more time together than they may have in many months. Someone said it’s like we are the little house on the prairie…with internet.

I know the name of this blog doesn’t fit well with that list I just put together. It’s not very encouraging at all. Besides; you already knew all of that. So here’s what I decided to do. I want to write some stuff that I hope will remind you that all of the upheaval happening in our lives may just be a God thing. I think God may be using the stress and difficulty of this situation to help us re-think our priorities.

Jesus taught about that one time on a hillside and I’m going to take some time to think through the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5. Each of these short statements begins with the phrase “blessed are you when…” They are the pathway to “being under the spout where the blessing comes out.” But beware; they are the reverse of the way we who live in America have come to think things should be. I hope they will encourage your heart as we work through them together. See you soon…