Apr 272021 0 Responses

How We Respond Reveals Our Faith

We often think our faith is defined by what we believe. In many cases that is accurate. To be a Christian means we believe many things–that Jesus is the Son of God, He died and rose again, judgment will one day come, and heaven and hell actually exist. Faith is built on belief.

Yet in many cases whether or not we are obeying God isn’t seen so much in what we believe as how we respond when decisions are made which we do not like. (See: How to Respond to Others When They Make Bad Choices)

Mask Or No Mask

My hometown, like many towns, is in the process of loosening regulations from COVID. Our state has eliminated the mask mandate as cases continue to plummet. Some small school districts in the area no longer require students to wear masks at school while most larger districts will require them for the rest of this year.

At a recent board meeting, one board member made the motion to end the mandate, but the motion failed without a second.

At this point, whether we are following the way of Jesus is revealed. It’s not revealed in what we believe about masks. People who follow Jesus can have differing opinions on whether they think masks are still necessary or not. Yet how one responds to the decision of the elected Board reveals whether we are following the way of Jesus or not.

Hebrews on Leadership

At the end of the Book of Hebrews, the writer is giving an assortment of commands to the people. In light of what God has done for them through Jesus, they should respond to life in unique ways–showing hospitality to strangers, remembering those in prison, and praying for others.

The writer goes on to say, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (13.17)

Clearly, there are times in which we are not supposed to submit to our leaders. When they ask us to do immoral or unGodly things, a Christian is called to stand up, specifically for the rights of others. Yet when leaders make decisions that aren’t moral or immoral in nature, a Christian has a clear expectation of response–supportive obedience that brings joy to those who are leading us.

Speak Then Submit

Living in our unique geographic and generational circumstances, we have a gift most Christian have never have. We get to give our opinion to our leaders. We can speak to politicians, lobby government leaders, and use every outlet legally given to us to push our viewpoint.

Yet when a decision is made, love drives us to a simple response–humble, willful acceptance of their choice and a joy-filled willingness to respond in obedience.

But that isn’t our natural response. While love may drive us one way, fear tempts us with another. Fear deceives us into thinking the issue before us defines a clear right or wrong. It limits our ability to see complexity making us believe anyone who doesn’t think like us must be immoral, evil, or ignorant. We are tempted to allow the ends to justify the means in pushing for whatever outcome we want. And when we don’t get our way, we question the character of those in charge and seek to demean them as people.

This is never the way of Jesus. (For more on how fear subtly drives us, see my book Fearless Families)

Love Over Fear

Instead of allowing fear to drive us, we must choose the way of love. Love clarifies what decisions belong to us, which belong to others, and what choices ultimately belong to God. Then it frees us from the pressure of ensuring the outcome we think is right because we trust God in all things. It humbles us to recognize we could be wrong or God could be using the choices of others for a greater plan than what we understand.

Then love drives us to choices that glorify God and betters society. It drives us to submit to those who are in charge and accept the decisions they have made.

Now consider–isn’t this how we want our children to respond to us? Don’t we want them to state their opinions, but then humbly submit to the choices we make knowing that we have a great responsibility given by God to be their parents? Isn’t this how we one day want them to respond to their bosses? To teachers? To every authority who is doing the best they can to lead?

Isn’t this how we want others to respond to us in whatever position we hold–at work, in social clubs, through civic engagement, etc.?

Imagine giving of our time and energy to make the best decision you can, yet anytime someone disagrees with you, they attack your heart, question your character, assume your ignorance, and fight with all that they have to make clear they disagree with you. That would cause “groaning” in the midst of your leadership. Jesus commands his followers not to cause such groaning.

That is what Hebrews tells us not to do to others. And as we do it to others, we can fairly expect others (especially our children) to do it to us.

Love invites us into a better way. It’s a way society desperately needs and it’s a way the Church should be modeling for all to see.

So what happens when I think the mask mandate should be lifted but leaders choose for it not to be? I gladly put on my mask and do the best that I can to love those around me.

For more about the connection between fear and complex issues, watch this brief video.

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