Practicing Unity & Love During Covid19
In 1977, I was ordained as a minister of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And, since that day, the overwhelming desire of my heart has been to lay down my life in service and in love for Christ and His Church.
In those early years, Jesus revealed to me that the two greatest visible evidences that the church offers to a watching world were unity and love. Jesus prayed, “Father, may they be one as you and I are one so that the world will know that you have sent me.” Also, on that same night, he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. By thi
s will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Is it any wonder that the enemy of Christ and His kingdom invests himself so thoroughly in his attempts to hinder God’s Children from walking together in unity and in love?
Because I have believed in the power of unity and love, I have spent much time, over the years, encouraging God’s people to major on the majors and give grace to one another in the peripheral areas of the faith. Therefore, God has often empowered me to lead His Church through some of the sticky-wicket issues that have faced the church during my forty-three years of pastoral ministry, issues such as, worship music styles, spiritual gifts and charismatic manifestations, etc. But, up till now, I had yet to experience anything like I have witnessed during the most recent Covid19 pandemic. Here, I have discovered polarizing attitudes that has left brothers and sisters in Christ, suspicious of one another. Over doctrine? No, over the issue of whether or not we will protect ourselves and those around us through the following of social distancing protocols and the willingness to wear a face mask when in public.
I have just completed an eight day stay in ICU, were I was being treated for Covid19. Where did I contract the virus? I do not know, but this I do know, I wasn’t living with a careless and cavalier attitude about the virus. I have many friends in the medical field who have continued to warn me that this is a very dangerous virus. I now know this firsthand. I have also been reintroduced to these facts, that by following some very simple protocols, we can protect ourselves and others while this virus continues to rage among us.
When writing to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul made this appeal, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility if mind regard one another as more important than yourselves, do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Paul went on to write that this attitude was and is the attitude of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe that this is the real rub in this present time, our unsubmitted inner man stands and declares, “No one is going to tell me what to do!” All the while, Jesus is saying, make the well-being of others, especially those of the household of faith your primary consideration, posturing yourselves towards the fellow-members of the Body of Christ so that your chief concern becomes their well-being in all things.
In Romans 14, the apostle reminds us that within the Body of Christ, there are mature believers, babes in Christ, and all manner of individuals in between. He calls us to walk together in love, and if it be necessary to assist the babes in our midst as they continue to mature in Christ. Even the apostle Paul was not beyond curbing his own prerogatives and privileges and preferences for the sake of the spiritual growth of others.
Though I have not walked with arrogance in regards to wearing a facial covering when in public, I have not adequately loved those around me, being deeply concerned with their well-being, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. For that lapse, I ask your forgiveness. It’s been a lesson learned from an ICU hospital bed. In the days ahead, I will, by the empowering presence of God’s Spirit, endeavor to consider you as more important than myself, thereby reflecting the Savior who has our well-being in mind and who continues on a daily basis to demonstrate it. He has now given to me another chance to lay down my life for you in love.