Others Can, You Can't
“Others can. You can’t.” I bet I heard that 100 times from my parents when I was growing up. A classmate having a party while his parents were out of town… Skipping class to go to snow skiing… Going to R-rated movies in Jr. High… I imagine you can fill out your own list too.
In this surreal pandemic, and asking appropriate questions about re-opening businesses, schools, and yes, Trinity worship services, how can we love well when we differ over matters of conscience?
Think of the color spectrum that runs from red to violet. On that scale, you can readily see how some shades subtly blend from one slight degree to the next, while colors like orange and blue contrast obviously.
On the question of re-opening, that is where just about everyone is – somewhere along a wide spectrum. There are those who are eager (and extroverted) who can’t wait to hug someone again. And there are those who are cautious and might prefer to self-isolate until New Year’s. It defies reasoning. And it can tempt you to disdain (see Romans 14). But the Gospel calls us to recognize the difference and then – rather than disdain – love.
I have received diametrically opposed requests from Trinity members. “Can we please, please resume worship services? I miss being with our people so badly.” And, “Can we please not get in a hurry and resume worship services? I think there is still so much we don’t know about this virus and I would hate for Trinity to be the next hot spot!”
So where are you on the spectrum?
I assure you, I’m longing to be reunited with our congregation en masse. (I was privileged with a small birthday parade last Saturday and it only made me realize how deeply I miss seeing you. And thank you parade people! You warmed my heart). But in bearing responsibility for our safety and to not sear the conscience of people, I am keenly alert to the breadth of our spectrum.
All this to say that we do not yet know when we will resume corporate worship live. But even when we get a green light from civic leaders and public health officials, there will still be the spectrum. And when that day arrives, we need to be ready to love well. If some can and yet you can’t, love well. If you will vie to be the first one in the sanctuary on re-opening day, love well. If you think everyone leaving their house is crazy or reckless, love well. Or if you think this whole thing has been overblown, love well.
Things to pray for:
- God’s perspective. Ask the LORD to help you to be more shaped by His Grace than by your own preferences.
- Security in Christ. Ask Jesus to secure you in HIS love, wisdom, and sovereign power.
- Compassion for others who differ. Ask the Lord to help you to be patient and kind with people in your life, especially those who do not see things the way you do.
- Hope. Ask the Holy Spirit to work for healing in our land, but also to convey to you His hope while we still wait. Pray that He would bear His fruit of hopeful love in your heart.