James Frank

Christian responses to plague times are nothing new, as historians often credit growth in the early church to its members' responses to the Roman plagues.

Offering care, love and kindness to plague victims without showing concern for their own well-being was a powerful example of the self-sacrifice displayed by Jesus Christ (to live is Christ, to die is gain).

It is not surprising that many converts were won during these times - Christians were serving others at the risk of death.

Our current pandemic offers us similar chances to be our brother's and sister's keeper, although we may no longer be called upon to directly care for the sick (thank you health care workers).

Modern health care has left Christians to consider things our second and third century brothers and sisters did not - like knowingly being a vector for spreading the virus.

While I don't want Christians to look at their neighbors and see a potential source of illness, I also don't want Christians to act like the virus is only affecting each individual.

While Christians should have no fear in death, I should still care for my vulnerable neighbor  -perhaps by taking precautions.

In a world that too often overlays politics onto religious views, I am struggling with some of my fellow Christians views on this pandemic - especially concerning the use of masks.

I can see a legitimate argument about masks in a political arena.

The extent of sacrificing individual rights in pursuit of benefits for the whole of society is a long-standing political debate.

However, within solely a gospel context, I struggle to see the same debate.

Christians are called to follow the selfless example of Christ, who died on the cross solely for the benefit of others (Mark 10:45).

Therefore, I am routinely called on in the faith to repress my own individual rights and desires (Gal 5:24), and to serve others over myself.

I think we are all called to reflect at this moment.

I personally consider: Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions, (Proverbs 18:2).

Compare that to: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love, (Gal. 5:13).

I hope I am not a fool in writing this, but I want all Christians to consider: are your choices glorifying the message of Christ, or making a political statement?

James Frank is an elder at First Baptist Church Warrensburg.

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