On Wednesday, March 10th Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order (GA -34) went into effect lifting the mask mandate in Texas and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent.
This Executive Order has been celebrated and criticized by our community which has unfortunately added to division that already exists within our society. Mask wearing people can be perceived or labeled as “being fearful and lacking in faith”, while the non wearing mask people can be perceived or labeled as being “selfish and unloving”. If we hold to one of these perceptions or label people in either of these ways we are laying a sin burden on others just because they differ from our viewpoint or opinion. Friends, for the Christian to respond this way would be theological malpractice and is not befitting of those who follow Christ.
The Christian response to any cultural issue whether it be Covid, politics, or matters of social justice should be markedly different than that of the world. The good news for the Christian is that God’s word gives us the necessary wisdom and instruction in how to respond in a manner that is God glorifying and beneficial for others.
2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:3-4 tells us plainly that the Scriptures are all we need to thoroughly equip us, ensure we have everything necessary for life and godliness, and will ultimately ensure we are complete. God’s word instructs us how to be pleasing to Him in peace and war, riches and poverty, in times of health and times of sickness.
It is in this confidence that we want to call everyone to examine and submit to the Scriptures in considering how we may walk together when we have different opinions and convictions about the dangers and precautions of COVID. If we do this, our fellowship will surely be marked by the evidence of God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Let’s pray to that end.
One specific principle we want to draw out of Romans 14: Exercise your conscience in a way that does not pressure or violate the conscience of other believers.
There are varying perspectives on COVID precautions within our church. Some think little precautions are necessary, while others think that extra precautions are necessary. There are various convictions about how masks and social distancing should be used. Our call in applying these principles is to exercise your personal convictions in a way that doesn’t call for the sacrifice of the personal convictions of other believers.
In looking to apply this principle we will be leading the Church in the following ways mentioned below…
Beginning, this Sunday March 14, 2021 wearing masks in our Sunday morning gatherings will be optional, but we will still keep social distancing measures in place as it relates to our seating and socializing with others.
*Seating Practices – During our 9AM Discipleship Hour we will encourage you to practice social distancing. In our 10:30AM Worship Service everyone will continue to be responsible, getting their own chair from the chair racks and taking it to the marked spaces on the floor. At the end of service we ask that you leave your chair in its place and it will be placed back on the chair rack.
*Socializing With Others – Please continue to be considerate of others as we congregate with one another before and after services. Being considerate might look like staying socially distanced in your conversations with others, taking your conversations with others outside, continuing to wear a mask, keeping a mask on hand if you are interacting with someone who has a different perspective than you, or it might look like simply sharing with others your comfort level. We will also continue to keep masks on hand for those who might need one.
*Sickness – If you are not feeling well or displaying symptoms such as fatigue, coughing, sneezing, or runny nose in the last (24) hours please consider staying home out of consideration for the well being of others. For those in this situation we will continue to provide our online service option.
Finally, let’s remember to never look down on others that don’t agree with our own convictions about these things. Let’s honor and serve them in a way that shows the world that we are truly Christ disciples – by the love we have for one other.