Love Wears a Face Mask in Public

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”

1 John 4:18a

I’m saddened by the course public discussion about the Corona virus and the measures being taken to slow its spread. Grieved, actually. Though not different than the qualities of public discourse overall, it pains me a bit more when it rears up about this issue, with its wide-reaching impact and importance. As debate about when and how to reopen our economy and how to shape our public lives is engaged, it appears that we have largely, once again, run ourselves into opposite corners, click-baited into them by headlines that confirm our cognitive biases. From here, the endeavor of hurling stones from one corner into the other ensues. 

“Those that don’t support passing a 3T aid package don’t care about suffering Americans!”

“Mask-wearers are sheeple who have been conned by fear-mongering sensationalist media!”

These are the words of fear, not love. This is the activity of fear, not love.

Love (not fear)seeks after the truth, not confirmation of their opinion.

Love (not fear) reads the whole article – all of the nuances of an article (well-balanced or otherwise) can’t possibly be captured in the headline.

Love (not fear) vets the source of their information to ensure that they are getting the best view of the subject.

Love (not fear) watches for when a reporter’s personal view is seeping into a story (or is overtly present).

Love (not fear) doesn’t allow politicians and talk-show hosts to supplant the consensus of health and science experts as sources of truth on medical or scientific topics. (Nor does it forget that there are multiple facets to a health-related crisis and that experts in other fields should be heard to round out understanding and refine points of view. Nor does it forget the difference between outliers in a field and consensus in a field. While outliers can bring creative new approaches, they should be handled with extreme care. They are often outliers for good reason.)

Love (not fear) wears a face mask in public when health experts advise that it can reduce the probability of transmitting the disease to your neighbor. 

Love (not fear) observes social distancing guidelines as much as possible in public places for the same reason. 

Love (not fear) seeks the best and most effective ways to reopen the economy, so that their neighbors can get safely back to work, pay their bills and provide for their families.

Love (not fear) understands that there are differing opinions about which timelines and methods are best for doing this, and seeks to understand these varied points of view as part of discerning which path is indeed best.

Love (not fear) knows that their neighbors are hurting financially, mentally and physically and gives or serves as they are able to help alleviate these pains and sufferings.

This is love in our present day, IMO.

Take measures. Don’t panic.

Love your neighbor always!

Be blessed.

Yours Is Not a Timid Spirit

Satan loves it when we are too timid to witness to others. It makes his job so much easier when we choose not to share the Good News with someone who does not yet know Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Satan knows that God did not give believers a Spirit of timidity and fear. And it makes him shudder. What empowers Satan is when the believers themselves forget that.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.”

2 Timothy 1: 7-8a

God did not give believers a spirit that is timid or fearful. Satan knows that. When believers remember that they have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline, Satan shudders because he knows what he’s up against – Fire!

Fan the Flame

In our passage, Paul encouraged Timothy to ‘fan into flame’ the gift of God. Paul did this because he knew Satan fights with fire. So we must fight Satan’s fire with a fire of our own. God’s gift was delivered in a mighty way on the day of Pentacost.  With the sound of a violent wind and the appearance of tongues of fire, the gift of the Holy Spirit arrived. This fire turned Jesus’ disciples from discouraged, shaken men into powerful witnesses who poured into the streets preaching the Good News in many languages. Thousands were saved (see Acts 2:1-41)! It is this same fire that we too as believers have received. This fire contains the power, love, and discipline that strikes fear into Satan. But only if we use it!

When firefighters are battling wildfires, they often have to set ‘backfires’ to stop its progress and ultimately extinguish it. So it is when we are fighting the fires of disbelief, apathy, and untruth set by Satan. Our backfires are our testimony to the truth, empowered by the fire of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus commanded us to light them, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19a)

The Spirit of Power

The very power that created the universe, that raised Jesus from the dead, that empowered His disciples to witness to crowds in languages they didn’t even know, is the same power that dwells in each believer in the person of the Holy Spirit. (see Ephesians 1:19-22, Acts 2:1-41) Enough said!

The Spirit of Love

Witnessing to non-believers is an act of utmost love. Though we may hear many arguments to the contrary, such as “who are you to tell me what I believe is wrong?” or “who are you to force your beliefs on me?” Christian believers who take their call to witness to others seriously, may often be called out as intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded—not descriptions associated with a loving nature. Let’s clear this up by using this analogy: If we were to see someone running toward the edge of a cliff, what should we do? We should do anything we can to stop them. That would be a loving thing to do, wouldn’t it? Of course! Simply standing by while they run off the edge and plunge to their death would be a hateful thing to do. Would it matter that this person did not believe that a cliff edge was there? No! Should we allow them to continue along in their belief or should we tell them the truth before it is too late? A Christless eternity separated from God is a horrible, terrible fate. Jesus Himself described it as ‘outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matthew 24:51).’ It is like running of an eternal cliff edge. We are called to use the Spirit of Love to warn non-believers that the cliff is there and that Jesus is The Way to keep from tumbling over its edge. To do anything less would be hateful, indeed!

The Spirit of Discipline

Witnessing is not often easy. Christian witnesses face skepticism, confrontation, and hate. Some witnesses in extreme situations are ostracized, face violence, or even death. Jesus told us it would be so (see John 15:18-19). It is much easier to avoid such unpleasantness. Thus, we can see that the easy way out is the way of timidity. Discipline is the ingredient that allows us to do what is loving and right when easier, more expedient options are available. Even better is that the spirit of discipline God gives us  allows us to draw upon His very power to do what is loving.

“A” vs. “The”

God did not give us a spirit that is timid. So let’s not act like He did! God not only gave us ‘a’ spirit of power, love, and discipline to witness with, He gave us ‘The’ Spirit of Power, Love, and Discipline. And let’s use it to fulfill all that we are called to do in our time on this earth: “Love God, and love our neighbor.” Our testimony to the truth we have come to know is our loving gift to a dark and hurting world, filled with dark and hurting people. That’s the truth.

I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God. For you have not been given a timid spirit. You have been given the Holy Spirit! You have been given the Spirit of Power. You have been given the Spirit of Love. You have been given the Spirit of Self-Discipline. You are called to use this gift of God to testify about your Lord.

That’s the YouTruth. Yours is Not a Timid Spirit.