And I feel our time in this pandemic can do that – make us more functional & mobilize us in our calling to be salt & light in the world (Matthew 5), if we’ll listen to what is being revealed through this time.
- The issue of wearing a mask is far greater than just that. Philippians 2 tells us we are to look out for the interest of others. This issue of wearing a mask sure does speak to that ! We are not wearing a mask for our own comfort. We are wearing a mask to protect others who may be more vulnerable than us.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men.”
2. Where we stand in the midst of our individualistic culture and where we find our identity matters
Our union with Christ leads to a personal dignity rooted in the identity we have in and defined by Christ!
While an individualistic culture values personal independence, a collectivist culture values community interdependence. People in individualistic cultures tend to view themselves seperately – in light of their own individual traits, character, and personality. Conversely, people in collectivist cultures tend to view themselves as a part of a community. We have seen this in the protests of wearing masks because it is seen as an affront to personal independence and rights as opposed to viewing it as an opportunity to unify in protecting everyone, especially the vulnerable. Christians are called to look out for the vulnerable numerous times in Scripture. If we define ourselves through our union with Christ, we tend to others by way of clinging to His example of humility and servitude & we are made alive and free to use the varying gifts of grace He has bestowed upon the body of Christ. Our union with Christ reforms our identity, not our personality type & preferences.
3. Revelation – are we listening ? There is so much being revealed in our culture about the past and the present as it pertains to racial injustice, prejudice, and racism. Are we listening to the stories of others and acknowledging their pain? Or are we distracting ourselves and bypassing conversations that NEED to be had ? We need to lament these things. In his book Dark Clouds Deep Mercy ,Mark Vroegop defines lament as “a prayer in pain that leads to trust.” We are sojourners and the world as we live in it is not the way God intended it to be. The book of Psalms is filled with lament – cries out to God that pour out the pain of the wrong we see and plea for God to bring change. Are we listening to what is being revealed ? Are we paying attention? Are we woke? Are we paying more attention to what the Lord reveals about Himself in His Word? Are we cultivating biblical literacy & deeper intimacy with God in our daily habits?
4. Habits : Are we practicing God’s presence? There is so much extra time in quarantine – are we using that time to sit in God’s presence? I have been forced to take an anxious heart to God numerous times instead of trying to figure it out on my own. And I am so grateful for this ! However, it has caused me to see just how much my prayer life desperately needs to grow through this time and moving forward.
What is God revealing to you in this time – is he calling you to foster dependence on Him, to cultivate joy, to practice hope in Christ in the midst of difficult circumstances? To love your neighbor? These are all a burden of mine in one shape or another right now. The beauty of it is not only does God empower us to desire what He would have us desire, but we are a not alone as we walk through this season.
5. Work it out together. Zoom fatigue is oh so real! And with this pandemic has come zoom, zoom, zoom! Church is live streamed and every meeting is either online (or on occasion outdoors). Despite the Zoom takeover & the reasonable exhaustion many have talked about, I have realized just how much we need one another. You are probably like – duh ! However, having to be at home has fostered an appreciation for community.
In Philipians 2 it says:
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
This term “work out” means to carry out, but the words “works in” refer to God energizing us & providing the power necessary for us to “work out [our] salvation in fear and trembling.” Earlier in Philippians Paul calls the Philippians to “strive side by side for the faith of the gospel.” There is a unity, a oneness we are called to with one another. Are we bearing the burdens of one another? Are we holding one another accountable through the distance?