Over the last few months, the unity of some of our churches has been threatened. In the midst of a pandemic, social unrest, and divisive election year politics, our culture has spiraled into turmoil. Tensions are high. As followers of Jesus, we are not immune to having our emotions inflamed by what we believe is right and wrong in our country. Adding to the turmoil, the recent mandate of the Montana Governor to wear masks in public places and gatherings has elicited fears and frustrations on both sides. In all the debates that face us as a nation, it is important for us to remember this statement in every question we face. Christ is all and is in all.
This truth is found in Colossians 3 as the Apostle Paul is addressing indwelling sin. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians+3&version=NASB
Since we have been raised with Christ, like a garment, there are attitudes and behaviors of our old self that we must lay aside. We are to put them to death. There are also virtues in which we must clothe ourselves because we are chosen by God, holy and dearly loved. As we put on love, compassion, kindness, humility, and patience, we are being renewed in the knowledge of the image of our Creator?
How does this affect us as the body of Christ? Verse 11 says this:
11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[e] free; but Christ is all, and in all. (ESV)
The body of Christ is not separated by race, culture, religious heritage, economic status, or station in life. These things divide the world, but not his Body. Christ is all. He is all that matters. He unifies us. He lives in each of us. What a beautiful testimony and a stark contrast to anger and vitriol we see in the world. Therefore, we must stay focused on the Gospel as the only answer to the issues we face. Everything we need, Jesus is! Let’s set our heart, mind, and affections on Him! Our life is now hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:1-3). He is our life!
I have been so encouraged to see many of our pastors speak with clarity in response to current events. You are compelling your faith families to be gracious and merciful to those who hold differing views on the mask mandate and its implications. Let me also give you some practical advice.
If you are seeking to honor the mandate, train your staff and volunteers well. What are appropriate responses and attitudes? How will you show unity? Don’t be passive in offering guidance and set a good example in your words and conduct. Please, also caution those who feel empowered to be the “enforcers” of the mandate and shame others. This is especially true with Children. Let your children’s team know that they may not force a mask on a child. That is the decision of the parents. A well-intentioned children’s team member can be charged with abuse and the church may face a civil lawsuit. The “law” does not save and forcing compliance will not end well.
Finally, in our text, verses 16-17 are a great summation. The right question we must consider in making any decision is this. How will my actions honor Christ and display the Gospel?
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.