Yesterday we met together as a local church for the second week after our absence from the building due to the COVID-19 shutdown. We had about two thirds of our normal attendance, which was more than we had last week. It was good to see people interacting with one another before and especially after the service. It was also good to see people showing grace and care by maintaining distance from one another even as they enjoyed the fellowship.
Opinions are obviously all over the spectrum when it comes to dealing with the virus. Some see the whole thing as a farce. That group is divided between those who are laughing and those who are angry. Some see this as perhaps one of the greatest catastrophes they have ever dealt with. They are split between those paralyzed by fear and those reacting against some in the first group. There are, of course, many somewhere in the middle of all this that are trying to find the right balance of caution and courage.
As Christians we are called to live by faith, and to face all things confidently knowing that our lord is in control. There are many things that can harm us, but none that can destroy us. On the other hand we are also to live our lives wisely; and our Lord reminded us as he was being tempted by Satan to not test God. That’s why I fix the brakes on my car when they need it. If can be a fine line between faith and foolishness.
The problem is that we do not all draw that line in exactly the same place. We all agree at the end of the day we just need to trust God, and we also would agree that we should use the brains the good Lord gave us; but there is a lot of gray area in the middle of the extremes. That is why we must find the right balance as we relate with one another. We need to give each other a little “space” to disagree and still walk in unity.
Paul expressed that balance in ministry we are to have when he wrote to the church at Thessalonica and said: “And we exhort you, brothers and sisters: warn those who are idle, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). There are some who need to be encouraged to not just sit on their hands, but to be active (even in a physically limited way) in serving the Lord and serving others. Some are discouraged – perhaps even depressed. They don’t need a lecture; they need to be comforted with the reminder that they are safe in Christ’s hand. Some are weak and they need us to help them and perhaps carry their load for a while.
Most of all, we need to follow the admonition at the end of that verse and be patient with each other. We may not be able to understand what someone else is thinking or how they are responding to this, or a hundred other issues of life, but we need to give each other time and space to grow. I am sure glad that the Lord (and many others) has been patient with me!