Church family – we’d like to frame this session as a family discussion, a crucial conversation of care. This has been a very difficult 18 months for Redeemer, as well as many other churches. We are well aware of the various challenges in views that have surfaced. But we also want to encourage this congregation as we now have the wonderful opportunity to come back together for worship in one service. As we move towards doing so, we ask you to consider the following encouragement and exhortation.
How would you feel if you knew all the answers to the following questions –
- Why did Covid happen?
- How effective is wearing a mask?
- Should you get the vaccine?
- Which experts can be trusted in all of this?
Or maybe we put it this way – what if you knew the answers to all of those questions, but what if you were also so polarizing in the way that you presented your opinions (even if you were 100% right!!!) that nobody could bear to hear it from you?
To put it in Biblical language, we’re referencing the need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). In addition, examine Romans 14 and the discussion of the weak and the strong. How many times have you considered yourself to be the strong? So, ahem…of the likely 0% of the time that we consider ourselves to be the weak, would it possibly have been helpful to realize that we were in fact the weaker party?? To see the necessity, consider David’s accusations and then abrupt change of attitude in 2nd Samuel 12, when the prophet Nathan pointed out to him, “You are the man!” It often does us well to have more humility in God’s eyes.
For instance, consider the term “fear”. If we’re honest, we have all had our fears throughout this last year, whether it’s of contracting Covid, infecting a loved one, the government overstepping its bounds or simply being proved wrong in our view around Covid protocol. What if we all admitted our fears to others, and prayed for each other? Wouldn’t that be a little less polarizing and instead help pull us together as a church?
This is not to say that truth doesn’t matter. But we are saying that many of the issues mentioned earlier are what we might call tertiary, and not even secondary, to that of the primary and fundamental call of Christ’s church. That call is to be worshippers of the head of the church, Jesus Christ. And where there are people who are not worshippers, we should have a priority to bring them in as disciples who worship the head of the church. It’s not my church; it’s not your church; it’s Christ’s church.
There have surely been 101 excellent lessons to learn though all the events of the last 18 months. One of the biggest ones is that the devil, the world and our own sin can be quite effective in seeking to divide the church by cheering us on when we focus on polarizing views. An equally valuable lesson is that we have the opportunity to come back together in one service, and that has potential to help us strengthen the unity of our community – one of the most beautiful things about this church, Church of the Redeemer.
We’re not saying to sweep things under the rug. We’re saying to be biblical. Let’s conclude with a few biblical passages that would be useful to meditate upon as we come back together in one service.
- Proverbs 19:11 emphasizes that it is to a man’s glory to overlook an offense. If someone has offended you, and you’re strong enough in the Lord to not let it bother you, great! Admittedly, we’re not always that way. If so, go to that person and humbly talk through it in love.
- Romans 14 speaks of the weak and the strong. One of the main points is not to shame or despise the other person. It’s to love them and seek to build them up and point them to the true healer, the true protector, the true champion…the one who is THE TRUTH embodied, Jesus Christ.
- Let’s be willing to work on our dialogue. Let’s speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
- And we do all of this because of our highest calling to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39).
We can go ahead and talk about the masks, and the vaccines, and the government – even amongst others with different views. But let’s also remember, because we are all on the same team and each one a beloved part of His Body, to talk about how the Lord Jesus Christ has taken some arrogant, some self-righteous and some fearful among us…sinners…who are all on the same team as the Ransomed, the Rescued and the Redeemed by His blood so that we will be enjoying Him together forever and ever! Amen and amen!