In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are countless ideas and opinions floating around all over social media, news outlets, and among friends and neighbors. It’s often hard to know who we can trust from a worldly perspective, but there is one source we can rely on in all circumstances: God’s Word. The last thing you need is one more opinion or worldly philosophy in the midst of the millions that are already out there, so it is my goal in this blog post to share some relevant biblical truths and then apply them to the current pandemic from a biblical worldview. Let’s get to it:
- SUBMIT TO GOVERNING AUTHORITIES AS LONG AS THEY AREN’T ASKING YOU TO SIN
- Romans 13:1-7 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
- 1 Peter 2:13-17 – Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
As I write this blog, it was two days ago that the county in which I live mandated that all residents wear a face mask in public for the next thirty days. While the state governor as well as many local authorities have since released statements that conflict and blur the original county mandate, the whole issue caused me to consider how I would respond if face masks were mandated across the board from every level of authority in our country. As you would imagine, the original county mask mandate caused much division and many displays of hatred toward the county officials, even from those who claim Christ. In looking at the Scriptures, however, I find no biblical commands regarding face masks. If the government mandates that we wear a mask, they are not asking us to sin. As American citizens we certainly have the freedom to contact our representatives with our concerns, cast our vote on election day, and even speak out publicly when our rights are truly being trampled upon. But it is possible to submit as a citizen to the governing authorities (with whom we may disagree) while also voicing our concerns in a respectful and honorable way. Now, if the government were to tell us, for example, that we could no longer share our faith, of course we would obey God over man, as God’s Word is clear about sharing the Good News in every corner of the earth. Obedience to God’s Word certainly trumps all else. But in wearing a mask would we be violating any of God’s commandments? Or is it just simply inconvenient and uncomfortable? *
Consider this: The Apostle Paul lived under Nero, one of the most tyrannical emperors of all time, yet he writes in Romans that we ought to be subject to the governing authorities. Jesus himself submitted to the governing authorities, even to the point of death, while ultimately remaining obedient to his Father in heaven.
- LET YOUR SPEECH ALWAYS BE GRACIOUS, SEASONED WITH SALT
- 1 Peter 2:23 – When [Christ] was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 – But we urge you, brothers, […] to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
- Matthew 7:12 – So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
- Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Whether you’re speaking about a government official or to your neighbor next door, there is never a reason to be unkind, either in person or behind your computer screen. When we claim Christ we represent Him to others in all we say and do. People are watching us; they are watching to see how Christians respond in a time like this. Let us make Christ look beautiful; let us use words that honor Him and draw others to Him. There is no room for unkindness, sarcasm, or obscene talk. I find it helpful to evaluate my speech with three questions that I’m sure you’ve heard before: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Oftentimes after I answer those questions I find that I am better off sealing my lips.
Further, writing sarcastic and hateful comments toward government officials on social media, criticizing the way in which they are handling this crisis, or complaining about how they’ll handle the reopening of their respective states is not helpful, profitable, or biblical in any way. My husband is a pastor and therefore is in the midst of making decisions, along with the other elders of our church, regarding how and when our church will resume our usual meetings. I don’t envy him at all; and observing his desire to make a wise decision on behalf of the body of Christ has given me a small glimpse of what the governing officials must be facing as they attempt to make the right decisions for entire cities, states, or even the whole country. It’s not easy. Will we look back and see ways in which we all could have done better? Absolutely. But let’s give our leaders grace as they navigate these rough waters in the weeks and months ahead.
- FEAR GOD ALONE
- Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
- Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
- Ecclesiastes 12:13 – The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
In addition to the many opinions regarding which actions the government should and should not take, there are also various conspiracy theories bombarding us from every side. If COVID-19 truly is one big scheme by China or the American government or Bill Gates in order to isolate us all and tank the economy as some people claim, how would that change your identity and calling in Christ? As believers, our citizenship is in heaven, and our assignment on this earth is given to us by God in His Word, regardless of our earthly rights or lack thereof. We are certainly not guaranteed any rights in this world. Are we more concerned about our earthly comforts and freedoms being stripped away than we are about telling the world of the eternal comfort and freedom that come through Christ? If so, let us examine our hearts closely. We must cling to the hope of our eternal home and ultimate freedom. Constitutional rights do not equal biblical rights. If one of the numerous conspiracy theories floating around out there really is true, our obedience to God remains the same – In my case, I would make it my aim to continue worshiping Christ as His child, aiding my husband as his helper, teaching my children as their nurturing mother, sharing the Gospel with my neighbor as a humble servant of the Lord, and serving my church as a sinner saved by grace. Let’s not waste our lives on anything less.
- DO GOOD
- Romans 13:8 – Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
- Galatians 6:10 – So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
- Romans 12:9-10 – Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
- James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Finally, rather than fixing our eyes on news stories and conspiracy theories, let us use our time to serve the Lord by doing good during this time of crisis. Let’s have compassion on people. Real people are ill and dying, losing loved ones, being laid off from their jobs, suffering financially, or living in isolation and loneliness. To downplay any of these issues displays a lack of compassion and love for our fellow man. Oftentimes it’s hard to see any side of an issue that doesn’t affect us personally. Be mindful of those around you, and if you’re able, help people who need it. Even if you aren’t able to leave your home, you might try making a phone call or sending a card. Check on your church family and your neighbors. Pray for them as well as for those who are struggling with issues not related to this pandemic. The Lord has given us community for a purpose – we need each other.
In conclusion, I am not suggesting that Christians stay silent. The ability to speak up for true injustice in the world and to talk openly about our faith in Christ are blessings that most believers in history have never been afforded. What I am suggesting is that we ask the Lord to fill us with His spirit so that we might speak and act with the fruit that comes from Him alone: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. For against these things, there is no law.
“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” Provers 18:6-7
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28
*I realize that a small minority of people have legitimate reasons for not wearing a mask; my comments are not directed toward them in any way.