I am posting excerpts from pastoral letters written for the congregation of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oviedo, Florida. These are offered with the prayerful hope that others might find perspective or encouragement in them.
One of the ways Jesus exercises his rule on earth is through his church. The world does not see Jesus, but it sees us. This should cause us to think carefully about how the world sees us. On the one hand, the judgment the world makes of us is not to concern us. We are more than willing to be considered fools for the sake of the gospel. Let the world deride our profession. But, in another sense, the judgment the world makes of us must shape our behavior. As we maintain a good reputation among outsiders, they, through their judgment of us, glorify God in heaven.
I think of this latter sense when I remember that “it has been testified somewhere” (actually in 1 Corinthians 9) that it is a gospel act to “become all things to all people that by all means we might save some.” And this comes to mind when I consider whether I should wear a mask in public places or not. I really am not a fan. Perhaps you are not either. However, there will be others who will be made more or less comfortable by my mask-wearing choice. In the judgment of whether to wear it or not, if by my wearing it I can protect some, then I should wear it. If my wearing it sends the message that I, a Christian, and I, a pastor, have concern and love for my neighbor, then it seems to me to be a good thing. I will become all things, even a mask-wearer, if by that means I might, if not save people, then at least not be a stumbling block before them.
And before you, rightfully, say to me “it has been testified somewhere” that I am a hypocrite, I own it. This conviction regarding mask wearing as a gospel act has only slowly come to me. I will start wearing it as soon as my wife finishes making mine.
But the principle I’m articulating here, of course, goes far beyond masks. May we be made to be fools before the world, if that is what it takes to retain honor to Jesus. But may we also be willing to be made foolish (and uncomfortable!) to ourselves if by that means we can show the love of Christ to those around us.