Often what is lost in turmoil surrounding the mask-wearing debate is the understanding of Christian obedience. As Christians, we hold ourselves to the biblical lifestyle which bears witness to the authority of Christ. In Romans 13, Paul teaches followers to obey all those in civil authority as if obeying the Lord. Paul tells the Romans that “you must obey those who rule over you…whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed.” For Paul, submission to an agent of authority honors God and communicates the gospel to an indifferent world.

Paul goes on, that’s also why you pay taxes. The authorities serve God. Ruling takes up all their time. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them. Do you owe taxes? Then pay them. Do you owe anything else to the government? Then pay it. Do you owe respect? Then give it. Do you owe honor? Then show it.

To obey a mask mandate even though you don’t like or agree with it honors and respects those who strive to serve God in their civil roles. This is what we teach our children about obeying authority from an early age. They obey teachers, coaches, and parents to learn about humility and to extend respect (a prerequisite for the demonstration of the love of God) to those in positions of authority.

But you ask, what if the government or those in authority lead their people astray? Fair question and indeed one that requires careful discernment. Courageous Christians throughout history have peacefully protested and not-so-peacefully protested systemic injustices found within corrupt governments and principalities. On this side of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we must remember that at times Christians are called to engage and reform systems of governance, policies, or unfair practices.

No matter what you believe about the mask mandate, I hope you will join us in honoring local decisions. It’s ok to disagree publicly with the decision, and it’s fair to engage politically with an eye toward reforming, but let’s not do so at the expense of who we are in Christ. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and continue to love unconditionally, even those we can’t agree with, as we call on God for the healing of our community, nation, and the world.

In the Living God, we trust!
Pr. Jon