Fear or Faith

Recently, our newest Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, told an audience that Supreme Court Justices are not partisan hacks. Here is a CBS News article about it.  She wanted people to understand this because many are confused about how two judges can reach such different conclusions in the same case. The difference between them is judicial philosophy. These are what underpins a judge’s approach to cases brought before the court. So, why do I bring this up?

Look at the people of the Church over the past few years. Now drill down deeper to look at the last year and a half. One sees refusing a vaccine and a mask as insensitive and unloving. Another sees such things as a harbinger of tyranny, to be resisted at all cost. Anyone who complies is called a sheep. How can this be with people who use the same Bible? The problem is that our view of the Bible, truth, and the appropriate response to these things have less to do with the Bible and much more to do with personal philosophy. Yes, we each have a personal philosophy through which we filter everything.

Let me explain with an example. I’ve seen churches mandate mask-wearing. Vaccination was preached and praised from the pulpit. People who didn’t want to participate in these saw themselves as having no choice but to leave. But on the opposite extreme, I know of a church that forbade people to enter wearing a mask. Mask wearing was verboten! They declared vaccination equivalent to the mark of the beast. They had a sign which defined their rule as Faith over Fear. I actually hear this often. “I won’t get vaccinated. Faith over Fear!” I won’t wear a mask. Faith over Fear!”

The problem is that both sides are responding out of fear. Those on the “pro” side are fearful about the virus, etc. Others are fearful about the vaccine. People are afraid about what might be behind the mask mandates. Of course, some of these fears are reasonable. Having questions about the ingredients in vaccines or whether they were adequately vetted is reasonable. Fears over the new technology involved in these vaccines are, as well. We’ve all seen times when the medical profession declared something safe only to find out, in time, how dangerous it was (Thalidomide, for example). Also, it is perfectly reasonable to question the honesty of anyone who stands to make a profit from the sale of something they produce. But I said question, not take profit motive as proof of dishonesty (Genetic Fallacy).

Besides these, we have excellent reasons to question the honesty of our government in the area of health (look up the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and MK-Ultra). Don’t get me started on all the vets I know who are still dealing with Agent Orange exposure. Then there are the Korean Villages, where the US Army is accused of burying tons of the toxic stuff without informing that nation.

I understand. But keep in mind that the reaction of both sides has more to do with fear than faith. Both sides are afraid. What they fear is different, but it is still fear. Stop pretending to not be frightened. We each have a philosophy about government, ethics, medicine, health, and faith. We filter everything through this.

The question we must answer is not “How do we stop being afraid?” But is “How do we handle our fears and respond to the needs we face today?” Faith is not the antithesis of fear. It is the antidote. As we each read, study, research, and evaluate sources, we must come to our own conclusions. Then, we must live with those conclusions. Unlike many, I will then add one more step—respect those who reach different conclusions even if you suspect their reasons.

I know people who have sworn to never take the vaccine. I stand with them, even though I chose for my own reasons to take the vaccine. I know people who refuse to wear a mask. I don’t assume anything about them other than that this person must have a reason they consider reasonable. I choose to wear one when required. This is not because I am subservient—anyone who accuses me of this does not know me. This is because I put every such thing on a scale. I look to see what outweighs what. But I also know that my behavior in this must reflect Christ. I believe I should do this for others—even if for no other reason than to show them that they are loved.

Don’t get me wrong. I recently saw a laughable post where someone said, “Jesus would wear a mask.” Someone rightly pointed out, “Jesus touched lepers and the diseased.” Would Jesus wear a mask? I said that my behavior should reflect Christ and tied this to why I wear a mask when needed. Does this mean I believe it to be more Christlike to wear a mask and less Christlike to refuse? No. I am saying no such thing. You see, we often forget Christ had perfect knowledge, while we don’t even come close. Jesus responded—and would still respond—perfectly. If he wore a mask, it would be the perfect response. If he refused to do so, it would also be the perfect response. But all we can do is our best. This may mean wearing a mask or not—since none of us know perfectly. But I know standing there arguing with a store owner about their right to require a mask to enter their store is not my idea of Christlike. The same goes for standing there arguing with an elderly Walmart greeter (about a policy that person did not even set).

Look closely when you see people strongly worked up (angry, resentful, spiteful) over these things—whatever side they are on. You are witnessing fear.

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