Being His People... Wearing Masks as Surrendered Service
As we explore the letter of James together as a church, we want to continue learning how to be God's people in our daily lives. This blog series brings together biblical truth and personal experiences on practical topics encouraging us to be like Christ.
In Surrendered Service
My grandfather fought in World War II while serving in the Navy and was involved in several battles in the Pacific. He fought to preserve the freedoms that American citizens enjoyed then and now. I’m incredibly grateful to him and to all the men and women who have and are still serving us all in these ways. What’s so fascinating to me, and what I would like to expound upon in the paragraphs that follow, is the idea of giving up some personal freedom, safety and comfort in order to preserve other people’s freedom, safety and comfort.
You see, this irony of surrendered service for the good of others is a biblical concept. In fact, Paul addresses the idea of giving up some personal freedoms in 1 Corinthians 8–9. He acknowledges that as Christians we enjoy some liberties, but he’s opposed to practicing them at all cost (8:9). Instead, Paul joyfully surrenders his personal freedom for the sake of the gospel and the good of others. He becomes all things to all people so that by all means he might save some (9:19–23).
Jesus Taught Surrendered Service
Jesus taught this truth too. In fact, it was His idea first. In Matthew 20:25–28, Jesus says that He came to serve others and not be served; and likewise, He calls us to be servants. Surrendered service requires putting other people’s needs ahead of our own rights for their good. This is what Jesus did when He gave His life as a ransom for many (20:28). In the same manner, we also ought to eagerly and joyfully surrender our liberties for the sake of the gospel and the good of others.
What’s more, Jesus even served others by submitting to the local authorities. He yielded to Roman law by living peaceably among others (John 6:15). He spoke respectfully about and to governing leaders (Luke 23:1–16, John 19:1–11), and even told people to pay their taxes (Matthew 22:15–22). We are called to do the same in Romans 13:1–7. Paul tells us to yield to our governing authorities. In fact, he tells us that resisting authority is equal to resisting God! Whoa! That’s a serious charge. As long as the government is not asking us to sin against God, we should yield to their authority.
Surrender Requires Humility
But surrendering our rights in the way that Jesus calls us to requires humility. The same humility that Paul pointed out about Jesus in Philippians 2:1–10. Jesus’ ultimate act of humility is an example that we’re called to imitate. God uses our acts of humility, however great or small, to produce unity within the church. When in humility we count others more significant than ourselves, God is glorified and the body of Christ is unified.
How can all of this help us be God’s people in our daily living? Well, let’s apply these truths to a big hot button topic these days: wearing masks (Siri…please turn off my phone and email until further notice!). First, we should joyfully and humbly surrender our liberty not to wear masks by yielding to our government leaders without grumbling or complaining (Philippians 2:14). They are asking us to partner with them by wearing masks around others and we should be willing to go to great lengths to respect and honor that decision. I’m not aware of anyone who likes wearing them (I certainly don’t), but our leaders have called on us to help, and we should lead the way in submitting to them.
Second, we should joyfully and humbly surrender our liberty not to wear masks by wearing them for the sake of the gospel and the good of one another. Many medical professionals do believe that wearing a mask reduces the risk of contracting the virus. If that is true, then we have a biblical obligation to increase each other’s safety by wearing a mask. But even if masks do not reduce the risk, wearing a mask for other people’s comfort and peace of mind is still a small way that we can love one another and our community well. That’s a simple, but good example of surrendered, God-glorifying service.
As we are being His people in these crazy times, let’s love each other and our community well by modeling government submission and surrendering a few of our liberties for Christ’s sake, Radiant’s sake and our community’s sake.
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