Does the Bible talk about wearing a mask during a pandemic? You would think the answer to that is no, but you would be wrong. The Bible has a lot to say about it, actually! I’m sure some of you are reading this saying, “boo, I’m never going to wear a mask!” Y’all are my people. I do NOT want to wear one. Many of you may not be attending church in person yet because people aren’t wearing masks, which scares you. You never go into public without wearing your mask. Y’all are awesome, it’s so hard for me to keep it on and not mess with it every 5 seconds. Anyways, back to what the Bible says about wearing a mask.
In chapter 8, Paul tells the believers there is not a problem to eat meat sacrificed to idols. He is talking about the meat that people would bring to sacrifice to the Greek gods like Apollo, Poseidon, and Athena at the temples. Then people could buy that meat from the temple and eat it. Paul tells them, certainly don’t eat the meat at the temple, but feel free to buy it and take it home and eat it. It is not a problem. Why isn’t it a problem? Because we know that there is only one true God, and His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. But in reference to eating meat sacrificed to idols, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:7-13:
7 However, not everyone has this knowledge. Some have been so used to idolatry up until now that when they eat food sacrificed to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not bring us close to God. We are not worse off if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat. 9 But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, the one who has knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 So the weak person, the brother or sister for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. 12 Now when you sin like this against brothers and sisters and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother or sister to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother or sister to fall (CSB).
So how does this relate to wearing a mask? We may be free to not wear one. Or we may be required to wear one through the “mandate” from Governor Northam. Some of you may think it’s fine, thinking you are going to ignore the mandate. In essence, you are the people with a “freed” conscience. While others of you are not going to be caught in public without your mask on, what is referred to as the weaker brother or sister. This isn’t a bad thing, by the way, it is ok to have convictions, but we should see if they align with what the Bible says.
In this case, we have to look at the principle that is made in the text. Paul is telling the church at Corinth to give up their freedoms if they hinder people from coming to Jesus. So, this weekend if nothing changes, I will be wearing a mask. I will not like it, but I will wear it so that I will not be a barrier to someone coming and staying in our worship service. A service where, as believers, we can have community worshiping the Lord and sitting under His teaching. I want our entire church family to feel safe coming back in person. I also want unbelievers to feel welcomed, safe, and have the opportunity to respond to the gospel. I will do whatever I can to not put up barriers for either person.
My challenge is the same one Paul gives the church of Corinth in chapter 11, right after he reiterates his point on Christian freedom.
Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 CSB).
The main point of this devotional is not just about wearing masks but about how we all live our lives each day. Will you join me in surrendering our freedoms in Jesus so that others may come to Him?
For His Glory,
[undated, before September 14, 2020]