“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s as act of true freedom.”
Galatians 5:13-14 (The Message)
It can often seem like an overwhelming or impossible task to ‘love others’ or ‘love our neighbor,’ especially if we don’t know them. We may ask who are considered ‘others’ or a ‘neighbor?’ From a biblical perspective ‘others’ and ‘neighbor’ are really anyone we encounter and even those we will never encounter or even know…which really is everyone.
Teachings like the Ten Commandments or the teachings of Jesus, or the teachings from the Apostle Paul like we read in Galatians, were meant to hold community together and be for the common good of community. Throughout the biblical stories in both the Old and New Testaments, we can read the ebbs and flows of how that worked for the people of God. There are wonderful stories of community and unity working well when love and consideration was a priority and there are stories of pain and hardship when God’s people failed to live with love and consideration for one another.
In these continued days of the Covid-19 pandemic, as much as we have all been inconvenienced and for some severe illness and even death, there are some basic, simple ways we can care for and show love to ‘others.’ Things that we keep hearing about that have been proven with good science to help in keeping ourselves and one another safe, are things like staying home if you do not feel well, thorough and frequent hand washing, keeping a 6-foot social distance between each other and wearing a face covering in public.
I have heard talk about encouraging or requiring face masks in public being an infringement on personal ‘freedom.’ But from a faith perspective, wearing a face mask is a simple way to care for those around us and live out the biblical teaching to love others. We all know that face masks can be hot or uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time, or just be inconvenient. But if we think of it as a ‘holy inconvenience’ it can be a simple way of serving and protecting others, even those that we don’t know and may never know.
Living out simple ways to care for one another witnesses to our inter-dependence as the body of Christ within community. May we hold that in mind as we live in these uncertain and often ‘holy inconvenient’ days.