Grace for Your Day January 3

2021 was a hard year for a lot of people. It was a time of great chaos in our society because terms like “quarantine” and “isolation” stayed in our vocabulary while the sight of people wearing masks became an everyday thing. Travel restrictions remained in place as well and schools and businesses continued to close and reopen in an endless cycle that led one poster to say that: “The first rule of the New Year is that you shall not talk about the old one. 2021 is the year that must not be named because it was a complete disaster.”

However, the sad reality is that a lot of these problems have continued to plague the church. We have not been immune to them because the government of British Columbia has recently issued another set of mandates requiring everyone to wear masks when they go to church. They have tightened up the restrictions once again which puts us in a difficult place here at Grace because we now have to decide: Do we comply or do we not? Do we wear masks to church or do we take them off and suffer the consequences?

More importantly, what do we do when we do not all agree on this issue? As you know, we have been dealing with the Coronavirus for almost 2 years now in Chilliwack and everyone has a different opinion on it. Even with all discussions that we have had over it, most of us still differ on the details so how do we handle that? What do we when we do not see eye-to-eye with each other on these things?

Fortunately, the Bible has a lot to say about that. It gives us clear instruction on what to do when we disagree with other Christians in the Book of Romans. Here Paul writes in 14:1-4:
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 

In Paul’s day, people did not wrestle with issues like the Coronavirus but they did deal with a lot of dietary restrictions because some believed that they were only supposed to eat vegetables in order to honor God while others thoughts that they could eat meat. Due to their Jewish or Gentile backgrounds, they were very finnicky about the food they consumed so, in order to deal with that, Paul reminds them of what a Christian is. A Christian is someone who serves the Lord. Food has nothing to do with it. If you want to eat meat, then eat meat. If you want to eat vegetables only, then eat vegetables only just do not make it a point of contention among yourselves because you are not the Judge. God is, so you need to be humble with the way you treat each other.

I mention that because I believe that Paul would say the same thing to us today. We want to be careful not to judge each other in times like this. We do not want to create a masked versus unmasked camp in the church because everyone has different levels of comfort with this issue. Instead, we need to be gracious with one another and prefer one another in love and “pursue the things which build up one another” (verse 19) which is what we are going to talk about this Sunday morning at Grace Fellowship Church.

This week, I will be preaching a sermon entitled “Should a Christian Wear a Mask to Church?” The purpose will not be to come down hard on this issue but to approach it the way Paul did and talk about the freedom that we have in Christ. You are free to wear a mask and you are free not to. The one thing that you are not free to do as a Christian is judge each other over it. You do not have the right to come into the church and look down upon everyone who disagrees with you because “to his own master he stands or falls” (verse 4). People will answer to God for what they do with masks and we need to leave it up to Him instead of fighting over it because our goal is to seek peace.

Please join us as we talk about this important subject. The sermon will be livestreamed and made available on our You Tube Channel for all those who are not able to come in person.   – Jeremy Cagle