The last two Sundays, I’ve worn a face shield, but tomorrow I’ll be wearing a mask. I don’t want to waste our time discussing it tomorrow, so I’m putting it out there tonight.
Not These Reasons
It’s none of these reasons:
A. It’s not because the Scottish government guidelines require it. The guidelines still permit those leading worship to use face shields if they are sufficiently distanced.
B. It’s not because I think the government should have changed the guidelines for churches just because people in Aberdeen spread the virus on a pub crawl. The government should be ashamed of this.
C. It’s not because the government has any credibility. The same people who told us not to wear masks now order us to do so. The advisor who told everyone to stay home traveled to her second home.
D. It’s not even that I believe the government has any legitimate authority to dictate what we do in the normal order of worship in this circumstance.
E. It’s not because I believe we are in an emergency. There have been seven new cases in Fife in the last week. That is less than 1 for every 50,000 people.
F. It’s not because I believe it would be dangerous to skip the mask. The likelihood that I have the virus is vanishingly small. The likelihood that I both have it, and would pass it on, if I keep my distance, is even smaller. The likelihood that I would pass it on if I keep my distance and wear a shield is so small that it is silly to talk about it.
It’s These Reasons
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
The government has now made it a legal requirement to wear a mask in church. I am not going to stand in front of brothers and sisters who may not wish to wear a mask, but are doing so because they believe they must obey the law, and not wear one with them.
Love for My Brothers and Sisters
I John 4
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Believers should not be afraid of the virus, but some may be. For those who are struggling with fear, I’m not going to make it harder on them. Now that the government has said what it has said, it’s possible that some would prefer I wear a mask. I’ll do so.
Evidence of True Discipleship
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Jesus said in this verse that how we demonstrate our love for one another before the world is an evidence of true discipleship. If they see love, they will know we are truly His followers. If they don’t, they will doubt it.
There is greater risk of a car accident on the way to church than of catching the virus during our service, even if no one wore masks — but that’s not the way the world sees it. If they see us in a church service together without masks, they’ll think we don’t care about one another. In I Corinthians 9, Paul said he gave up his freedoms for the sake of the Gospel. He gave up a lot more than I have to give up by wearing a mask. If the world sees a mask as a sign of love, I can wear it.
Loving Our Neighbours
8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
In a recent survey by KEKST CNC, they found that on average the British people think that 7% of Brits have died from coronavirus. This would mean 4 1/2 million deaths, one in every 14 people! In reality, it’s closer to 0.07%. The media and politicians have so scared the British people that they think it is 100 times worse than it is. The tragic fact is that we live among terrified people who are scared of death and so scared to death.
I won’t let their fear keep me from honouring God and obeying His command to worship together — but I’ll do what I can to keep from stoking their fears. I don’t like to wear a mask, but my God tells me to love my neighbours.
So, I’ll Wear a Mask
When you see me tomorrow, those are the reasons. I’m not afraid of not wearing it. I’m not wearing it because the government says I must, or even advises it. I’m not afraid of catching or passing on the virus.
The government gives exemptions from the mask for certain health conditions. Perhaps, given the lung problems I’ve had in the past, I could get an exemption, but I won’t. I’m able to wear masks, I’ve done it before without trouble, and will do it again. I don’t believe Christians should fear masks anymore than I think they should fear the coronavirus.
I may take the mask off briefly, when well distanced or outside, so the children can see me and see me smile. It can be scary for very young children to see everyone wearing masks — they need some normalcy. For the service, I’ll be wearing it.