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Thoughts on Mask Mandate 8/2020

Dear Congregation and friends of MarshView Ministries. 

 

Just a little over a week ago, the Wisconsin governor, Tony Evers, declared an emergency order requiring anyone in a public gathering to wear masks, this included houses of worship. Though there are exemptions for those who for medical reasons or other extenuating circumstances, it is a mandate.

 

This has been a hot topic and a divisive issue in society as well as in the church. No one, including myself, enjoys wearing a mask and for some wearing a mask causes severe distress physically and emotionally. For those who do not suffer from physical or emotional distress, the mandate under the emergency order should be followed. 

 

As the Pastor of MarshView Ministries, I find myself in a difficult situation attempting to navigate through these unique times while attempting to hold together the unity of the church in the Spirit of Christ.  Though it is easy to make decisions based on emotions, on political views, personal choice or even constitutionally, I ask that we together consider this theologically.  By that I mean, what insight does the bible give to us to help guide us through this time.

 

A number of verses come to mind that I would encourage you to consider. 

 

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.” Romans 13:1-2

 

And from Titus:

 

“Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.” Titus 3:1

 

These instructions inspired from the Holy Spirit to the apostle Paul instructs believers who were living under persecution from the pagan Roman government.  I imagine they were hard words to swallow at the time.
 

Is there a time when Christians must disobey the government? I believe, Yes. When the authorities single out or attempt to prohibit the Gospel, the message of Christ from being delivered, the church needs to stand against that. In the book of Acts we read,  “So they (the Jewish leadership) called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:18-20

At this time, the church has not been targeted from the rest of society, nor have we been told we cannot continue services or online proclamation of the Gospel.  A mask order, though inconvenient, it is neither stopping us from worshipping, preaching or halting the fellowship of the church. I would prefer a mask to shutting down our society for a second time. 

I ask that you consider these passages in light of one more passage from Philippians 2:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

6 Though he was God, 
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form, 
8     he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

Paul goes on to say, 

 

“Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Philippians 2:14-15

 

Jesus, though he was God, willfully submitted himself to earthy governances, corrupt ones at that, for a greater purpose.  The disciples at the time could not see the end result of how God would be glorified, but his submission for the greater purpose of the salvation of mankind, to which we are the beneficiaries of his obedience. What greater purpose is God doing through this in our own time?

 

I ask that you consider these verses from Paul again in Philippians, 

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:1-4

May Christ and his Holy Spirit bring peace, healing and hope to our fractured society and may the church be salt and light in our city and country.

 

God bless, Pastor Dave.