If I am to be completely honest, I find myself struggling in many ways in the midst of this pandemic. I am digging into the Bible more than ever, praying and am open to talk and show the love of Christ to others in my path. Yet with many restrictions in place with COVID, I have limited opportunities to share w/ others and reach out in meaningful ways in evangelism. I don’t have a green light to pick up and move nor go full time mission. We are living faithfully as we know it and see what to do in our everyday lives
The church my husband and I are members of here in the Pacific NW have seen a polarization of views both politically as well as the following of local government guidelines to wear masks in this pandemic (some almost militantly refuse to wear masks around and in foyer of church, so it makes it difficult to run the gauntlet entering and exiting). We do not wish to offend our brethren and wrote a letter to the church pastor and elders. Many have voiced Similar concerns. We were more active at church prior to the Covid but now rarely attend because of people ignoring the “rules”. The pastor just sent out a letter of plea to those to respect others and comply in love of the brethren to follow guidelines. We watch church digitally and even use zoom for a bible study ( another church group as ours meet in person with no masks to accommodate those who won’t wear them) and meet w/ others on zoom or in person in extremely limited circumstances. I am in a vulnerable classification and have not felt the peace to discard wearing a mask. I am saddened that I feel a lot less at risk in a grocery store than at church Anyway, I am loving those around me in my Neighborhood and reaching out in small ways -whichever way possible but am feeling very hedged in. I am seeking open doors in the midst of all this. The best we can do right now is to be faithful in what we know- loving the Lord and loving our neighbors. We feel God is preparing us but not sure for what. I cannot believe that He would have me go through all we have been through these past number of year or this training for nothing. I believe whatever God brings us through- it is for not only our good- but also. for the world around us.
So finally, question is- is anyone else feeling this or in similar situations? It is good to have a place to “connect”. Thx for listening.
Thank you for your honesty in sharing some of the struggles you are experiencing at this time of the pandemic. I am sorry to hear that the issue of masks has turned into a stumbling block for christian fellowship and ministry. At a time, when we naturally want to look to the church for comfort to alleviate some of the stress of the pandemic, it is quite unsettling when it becomes an added source of stress. I resonate with your situation as many of the Christians we normally interact with whether at church or other local institutions are not in favor of masks as opposed to our family. It has been difficult to figure out how to navigate communication about differing views that are held with strong convictions and still maintain good relationships.
As I have searched the Scriptures to understand how to handle these uncomfortable moments, I have turned many a times to Rom 14:12-13, Rom 14:19-23 and Eph 6:12. Whatever position we as Christians have on masks, if our actions to those differing from us does not come across as love, we are making room for disillusionment about Christianity and putting stumbling blocks in their faith and we could be making it all too easy for our real enemy to win. Relationships can quickly go sour when mask issue is elevated to a spiritual issue, as an issue of faith or love, when the real issue may be mostly due to scientific misinformation or a political view. So, I too wish we can see in our christian communities more openness for discussions, humility to reconsider opinions if justified by facts, graciousness and intentional creative measures to bridge the social void to keep christian unity while we strive to understand our differences. Separate meetings for maskers and non-maskers, options for in-person and remote participation honor the different views in an organization, but clearly more is needed to promote unity and a sense of belonging. When people feel forced to do something that goes against convictions sooner or later we start seeing problems. Open communication on expectations, being sensitive to other’s comfort level, flexibility on both sides to make things work, leadership promoting facts on issues and promoting a culture of acceptance with Christ as the foundation, seem like common sense measures but is still uncommon and difficult to materialize in experience. Small groups that pray often during the week, one on one phone calls, meal exchanges, celebrating special days, outdoor gatherings, video chats, helping with financial needs, talks on mental health issues and christian unity are a few things that have helped in allowing space for these important discussions. It certainly is a time of testing for christian love and a time to pray! I pray for God’s strength and wisdom for you to endure through these challenging times, for strong friendships and that seeds you have sown into your local church body in christian love will remain healthy in the coming months, until we pass this tide of the pandemic.
Here are a couple other resources I have come across on such issues and hope they are helpful to you.
Thank you again for your question. I look forward to learning from other viewpoints as well.
Thank you so much Lakshimi ( still learning how to add the name n links in connect)!
You have confirmed much of what I have been learning through this. I will check out those resources as well. We are not so much “reacting” to all this as “acting” in what and how we believe the Lord would have us to do. It is still not easy going through this and it’s difficult to voice honestly in love so as to not contribute to the problem but to act responsibly in love while still maintaining healthy boundaries for us. I am saddened to see growing divisions but I have to stay focused on Him who is able to overcome in His love. Also I desire to be faithful to be, do or say whatever he wants me to do- THEN- trust in Him no matter if I see the results that I may think are right or wrong. This is tough for sure as I am feeling quite isolated at times but this can also be a good thing as it drives me closer to Jesus in both trust and love and knowing HE alone is good and loves us all so very much. We simply cannot do this and He teaches us that He is sovereign - He’s “got this”. I am sheltering in His wings. Thank you for letting me share this. I would appreciate prayer for all of us- that we will shine our lights so that others may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.
Thanks for your quick reply. I hear you when you say -
Glad you are choosing to take everything to God in prayer and choosing to respond rather than react. Your heart for seeing unity in church is quite evident even in your initial question. Yes, this can be a good thing to turn to Jesus, but we were never meant to bear our burdens alone. I hope your local situation will improve soon. Until then, being connected with few others, even if its online may be helpful to overcome those feelings of isolation. I grieve for some of the loss in strength of relationships you may be experiencing because of this pandemic. Your question is an encouragement as we realize we are not alone in our struggles. May God just bring peace and clarity to this situation. Will certainly continue to pray. God bless!
Thank you for sharing, and I can certainly relate to what you are going through. I go to a pretty big church and we are also facing similar issues with the mask/no mask. Whenever I hear a church member complaining about the changes (online service, zoom small group, mask, election, etc. ), and if I sense any negativity or whiny tone, I would jokingly remind them that one of the devil’s favorite trick is to cause division among the believers, lol.
As far as connecting with others, I am fortunate to have friends who are willing to hang out and pray weekly at a park, it really helps to balance out all the zoom meetings we all have these days.
Thanks Vivian. That can be a great approach to use some humor in the tone of the voice to remind all not to be divisive. It is getting cooler now outdoors so that time is going to be more limited. The Lord brings us through the tough times for sure…yet I know that things are never without some ups and downs along the way. It is good to have others to talk and pray with along the way!