Wearing masks as a testimony of faith, not fear
Wearing a mask when out in public is a matter of science and good medical advice from physicians and public health workers. When more people cover their noses and mouths, fewer droplets of virus will be spread unknowingly from one person to another. Fewer germs spread = fewer people getting sick = fewer recovering but living with lingering debilitating side-effects and fewer deaths.
For an unfortunate while, mask wearing became a matter of political ideology where one party was associated with mask wearing and the other with not wearing one. Thankfully this distinction is less absolute as all leaders of government now encourage mask wearing.
For me, wearing a mask is also a matter of faith and my theological understanding. I wear a mask when around others because I believe mask wearing is most consistent with my Christian values.
Wearing a mask symbolizes that you care about others. The second greatest commandment is that you are to love others as you love yourself. We always should do whatever we can to help others feel safe and to protect their wellbeing. Even though it is inconvenient and uncomfortable, wearing a mask to protect the health and life of another follows the second commandment.
The first and greatest command is to love God with all you’ve got. Wearing a mask symbolizes that you honor God and value the life God gives. Faithful people don’t fear death, but we also treasure life and fiercely protect it as a precious gift from God. We show our love for the Giver by guarding and nurturing the God-given gift of life in ourselves and others.
We also don’t put God’s priceless gift needlessly at risk. We are not to put God to the test. Jesus himself resisted the devil’s temptation to jump off a cliff just to force God to miraculously intervene and keep him alive. Not masking up because “What will happen, will happen” can be seen as a way of testing God today. And worse, it is putting God to the test while putting someone else more at risk than yourself and expecting God to miraculously intervene to prevent other people from catching the virus you are possibly spreading.
“Thou shalt not kill” is a top 10 commandments. Thou shalt not make someone sick with something that could pos sibly kill them is a good corollary.
To wear a mask symbolizes that you value the body of Christ and its members. Medical workers on the front lines are risking their lives to heal those many people who are filling hospitals and ICU units. These medical workers are the healing hands and feet of Christ. We cannot visit in hospitals now so these medical workers are also spiritual ministers and comforters now. This is an overwhelming load to bear.
To support these medical workers we should pray for them. We should follow up on our prayers by supporting them and doing what they ask. These medical workers ask us to do everything that we can to keep their caseloads from growing. They ask us to follow the few guidelines and recommendations that we are learning after the suffering of over 13.5 million people worldwide (3.5 million here in America) and the 580,000 COVID19 deaths (140,000 here in America). They ask us to wash our hands often, keep at least 6 ft of physical distance, stay home and away from others when we feel sick and to wear a mask when out in public. I pray they are encouraged and feel valued when they see us wearing masks.
Jesus cured all physical and spiritual diseases when He was here on earth. I think He would wear a mask if He came to earth today as a model for us. He didn’t need to be baptized, but He did that anyway to model the journey of faith He wants us all to take.
Jesus would want us to wear masks, not because any authority told us to, but because humble service to others is the hallmark of His leadership style.
Jesus advised adhering to civil laws (ie taxes) when they didn’t counter God’s commands and sometimes suggested doing even more (ie go a second mile when ordered to go one).
I can’t invent the cure for COVID-19 but I will pray for God to inspire those who are working on a cure.
And one way I will exhibit my faith in God and do my part in this fight is by wearing my mask. I pray you will too.
The Pastor’s Podium column is offered each week by a different pastor or lay person representing an Ellsworth County church.
The week’s columnist is Amy Jo Hawley, pastor at the First Presbyterian Church, Ellsworth.