In a recent post, I made a claim that if Jesus were here today, in the midst of the pandemic, he might wear a mask. The pushback I got from evangelicals was intense. I wrote about some of it here – but that was just scratching the surface. Evangelicals’ comments revealed, again and again, how they think, and how they think God thinks.
Essentially, they were proclaiming what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be a Christian.
Problem is, much of what they said does not stand up to scriptural scrutiny.
When I reminded evangelicals that masking and vaxxing are for the sake of our neighbors, their response went something like this (a direct quote):
Mary: Each of us will one day answer to God for our own actions, don’t worry about another’s actions, just your own.
Me: As Christians, we are responsible for loving our neighbors. When we answer to God for our actions, they will include our treatment of our neighbors, yes?
Mary: You are not responsible for your neighbors. You are responsible for yourself. Your relationship as a Christian is mainly between God and you. How you treat others comes later.
I kid you not. It wasn’t a one-off either – multiple people made similar comments.
“You are not responsible for your neighbors. You are responsible for yourself”?
This is literally the exact opposite of what Jesus actually said.
(Mary also said, “I’m pretty sure that we as believers can know that Lord of all creation would not hide and cower behind a mask of any kind. There is nowhere in scripture that would say otherwise. It is that simple” and “Jesus would never wear a mask period. No discussion needed.”)
Mary must have forgotten the parable of the Good Samaritan. Everybody knows this story (Luke 10).
Someone asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers with the parable. He closes the conversation with the words, “Go and do likewise” – i.e. “and that’s how to inherit eternal life.” We can sum up the lesson like this:
Those who love their neighbors sacrificially inherit eternal life.
Evangelicals frequently accuse progressive Christians of hijacking our religion to rationalize our reckless agenda. It seems to me that Mary and her ilk are burying the clear message of Jesus to rationalize theirs.
“Your relationship as a Christian is mainly between God and you. How you treat others comes later”?
This statement makes it easier to refuse to wear a mask during a pandemic – but which seems like a better idea: to censor Jesus, or to just put on a mask?
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I do love my neighbors and yes I will answer to God just as you will. I highly doubt that God will ask me anything about wearing a mask and getting a vaccine. What He will ask is what I did with His Son Jesus. How did I obey Him? Did I tell others about Him? Did I give of my time, my money, did I serve others?
There are many ways to love and serve others, to feed the hungry, to help the unloved and the destitute. Masks and vaccines don’t enter into the picture.
Here, Mary assumes she knows what questions God will ask on Judgment Day and what answers God will (and won’t) be looking for.
A bit presumptuous, but it again enables Mary to refuse to mask.
The funny thing is, Jesus told us what the conversation on Judgment Day will be – and it could very well be about masks and vaccines. The parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25) teaches us this lesson:
Those who care for “the least of these” will inherit the kingdom.
Evangelicals, let’s talk.
It’s empowering to believe you have God figured out. You’ve made it something like eighteen months into the pandemic without caving to the vax pressure. You think that proves you’re right? God has blessed you for your faithfulness?
You have a lot invested in this anti-mask anti-vax issue. You want to believe that you’ve been on the right side. You certainly don’t want to admit you’ve been wrong all this time. But at what cost do you maintain this status quo?
You censure Jesus. You refuse to have intelligent conversation with your detractors.
If you’re unvaccinated, you’re 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die of covid-19, than those who were fully vaccinated – this is according to the CDC. You can say you don’t trust the CDC, but it is at risk to your life and the lives of others.
What I’m saying is that your position, which doesn’t even line up with the teachings of Jesus, could kill you.
(If you are energized by challenges to the evangelical status quo like this, you’d enjoy my blog. Sign up for my free newsletter here! I’m planning several more posts on evangelicalism and Covid in the coming days.)
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