The last few months have presented many challenges for our elders during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’ve been doing a great job. Their latest dilemma is how to sensibly restart in-person gatherings.
On Tuesday, they sent a letter to Northside members explaining the precautions we’ll be taking as we reopen for worship on June 7. If you haven’t read it yet, see Page 3.
As if the logistical details weren’t challenging enough, this whole conversation is tricky since among us there is a wide variety of strongly-held convictions. Many are eager to meet in person, and some are even looking forward to “full-contact fellowship,” as the elders put it in their letter. Others believe it’s unwise to meet until there’s a vaccine. Plenty fall somewhere in between.
With so many opinions about the pandemic and how to approach it, how can we, as a church, move forward in unity? I believe that by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, the opportunity is there for us to be a model for the rest of the world. In this situation, we have an opportunity to model love and place the interests of others above our own (Phil. 2:4).
For instance, you might think it’s unnecessary to stay six feet away from everyone at all times. But even if you’re right, why not sacrifice your views out of love for others who believe precautions like that are necessary? Maybe you think it’s silly, or even shows a lack of faith, for someone to stay home on Sunday. But why not follow Paul’s wisdom in Romans 14, where he told Christians not to quarrel over disputable matters. His teaching on the subject was to “stop passing judgment on one another” (vs 13) and to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (vs 19).
Likewise, those who think the lockdowns should continue should not pass judgment on those who are glad we’re reopening. We should do our best to honor and respect people on both ends of the spectrum. Have you noticed how confident so many are in their views right now? We could all use more humility, and the church should lead the way.
I urge you to model Christlike humility in how you react to the plans outlined by our elders, even if you don’t agree with all their decisions. None of us should assume we’ve arrived at the definitive answer on how to do this well. Let’s acknowledge that there are no easy answers and we’re all just trying to do the best we can in this difficult moment.
“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)