I appreciate this article. We’re a healthcare family and, because of what we see first hand, we’re currently opting out of all indoor activities with our young children. We left our church home of 5 years earlier this summer when they dropped the mask policy for children (after the CDC policy update) and we feel so disenfranchised from fellow Christians on top of the isolation we’re choosing. We have no question that this is the right thing to do, but we wonder about the healing process moving forward. What does it look like to reconcile with those Christians who have not followed the course illustrated by Christ’s example? How can we be one again when all this is over? So much has been exposed.
What a great topic. We may well want to split that into a post of its own.
By the way, I see you are a new participant in the forum, so welcome to our little corner of the internet. It is always good to have fresh voices in the discussion, and we hope to get to know you better. The forum has a diverse group of people involved, some of which occasionally agree with one another, and we try to keep it a safe space where those thoughts can be shared and some sense of community achieved.
Back to your quote above, it is something I am actively dealing with in my community and church also. While emotions are high, it seems that as the virus is calming down a bit in my particular area, people are a little more reasonable. Even those who were strongly anti-shut down, anti-mask, and anti-vax are beginning to realize that this was a terrible time, and we could have handled it better. Overall, I am trying to concentrate on my reactions, and trying to extend grace to those who I have quite frankly been angry with as I feel their actions hurt people, and perhaps even resulted in the death of some of my friends, and hope they will also extend the same grace to me when I have been arrogant and judgemental in my thoughts and actions. It is an ongoing process.
Welcome, and good questions. We’re struggling with that too. Part of me is looking forward to feeling physically safe at our church again, but another part of me is unsure if I can trust people there again after the way that many have behaved about this. And unfortunately, as divisions rise, people often polarize more. More anti-maskers started coming to our church once they realized they weren’t following guidelines, so it’s probably swung further in the conspiracy direction. It’s disheartening, and there are no easy answers.
Great question. I’ve been to church physically once this year, in June, before delta became rampant. I asked someone about vaccination and she turned out to be a very politicized right-wing vaccine opponent. I’m just waiting to see what ‘when this is all over’ looks like – it may be a while. (I have only one kidney, a high percentage of COVID survivors have had renal effects, and my wife is semi-invalid and pretty dependent, so I am ultraconservative… a little irony there! )
I just mentioned this conversation to my wife and she said nobody should wear masks, we should all hug one another, get sick and die and all be one together in glory.
What a wonderful response to the controversy that never seems to wane. Thank you for providing this model for a clear, well-researched and well-reasoned response that is direct but non-confrontational. I so appreciated this, and your courage to speak out!
Thank you, and welcome @Adrienne_Garrison ! I’d also appreciate a thread for this, since we definitely second this feeling and experience to a degree.
Maybe one of the keys (or irritants) that prompts us toward reconciliation is to not think of it so much as "our tribe over here – (who we like to imagine think 100% like we do), and their tribe over there (who we also falsely imagine think 0% like we do). In that stark dichotomy, I easily demonize the other side and feel nothing but smug self-righteousness on behalf of my own tribe.
But any level of self-reflection at all causes me to see points at which I resonate with, or have sympathetic thoughts toward “the other” - and even identify with their passions and convictions on at least some points. So to the extent that “they” warrant my righteous anger, It’s really just 70% of me being angry with the other 30% of me. And suddenly, reconciliation isn’t just some nice goal for getting along with others, but something that is literally thrust upon me if I’m even going to live with myself!
And that helps me to talk more civilly to others, to give my self-righteous self a significant check whenever its gets busy demonizing all “those others”, and to realize that I do still love them - had better love them! - just as I had better learn to live with myself too.
The metaphor of Christ’s body rejoicing (or feeling pain) with each member is interesting to extend into this whole area: what if one member is angry with another? And perhaps even justly so! The key to being one, is to realize that whether you like it or not we are still one body, and our own welfare is inextricably caught up with theirs (which may be the cause over which we feel anger in the first place, to be sure, but it doesn’t become any less true just because a member of our own body is more vulnerable to choosing this or that destructive habit.) Parents of drug-addicted children feel the pain of this struggle more than most I’m sure.
We don’t (or shouldn’t) hate our own body … which means not hating any of its members. Even the wayward ones - which will sometimes be … you and me!
This is such a good metaphor and picture, but I, too, struggle with this, and my church wasn’t even as divided on COVID measures. Just not really sure what it even looks like to reintegrate into the lives of other Christians when we may have wildly different viewpoints on health.
For me I move forward by simply not caring. That’s really all there is. When it comes to the congregations I attended, the people within them are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m commanded to forgive them. In order for me to forgive them, I just block it out. I can’t discuss it with them. I’ll just get mad. We are called to fellowship and assemble and submit to elders and to carry out the great commission. I compartmentalize things I strongly disagree with just like I do here. There are things within BL I dislike just as much as I dislike from fundamentalist. I’m sure I believe things that others here really can’t stand and even hate.
There is also a difference between loving someone and liking someone. There is a difference between appreciating things about someone and the common ground you share versus the things you strongly disagree with being what you focus on.
Ultimately you have to have whatever convictions you have. A brother or sister in Christ won’t be perfect and just because you love them and accept them as your brother or sister and you help them and are there for them does not mean they are your friends and you like them.
There is a guy at my church that often sits next to me. We have prayed for each other. We have been open with one another on many issues of what we are struggling with and shared our sins with one another. I love him. I would try to fight a bear if it was attacking him to try to help him escape knowing I could potentially get seriously injured or even die. He’s called me at 2 am in the morning crying an hour away drink because he slipped up and I drove there, got him, and the next day after work thst I still got up early for took him back to the place and he drove his truck home.
I also can’t stand him. There are times I just want to shove a sock in his mouth to shut him up. I don’t like him. I think he believes some of the dumbest stuff. He wears a rebel flag, he refuses to listen to music and only listens to hymns, he thinks horror is evil, he’s a YEC and he is not getting vaccinated and he has maybe wore a mask once. He’s taken masks off in public places in the surge of the pandemic and when asked to put on a mask said no he’s not going to help contribute to this fear mongering. We don’t really hang out. But we often help each other.
When I see him, my first thoughts is a big middle finger. But I don’t let the emotion control me and if he says he’s depressed and he feels like putting a bullet in his head and he’s outside of a bar and needs me to come sit with him so he can’t all about how angry he is with life I go , or send another. If I go, I put all the stuff I can’t stand out of my head as best as possible and encourage him to continue getting counseling and continue to pursue righteousness and that he needs to continue to share the gospel. But I never just like call him and see does he want to hang out and watch a show.
But he knows where I stand politically and he knows where I stand on almost every issue. He also knows I’m not going to debate the same issues again and again. I also know that he does tons of volunteer work. He sold his truck one time and bought a motorcycle that was 1/8th the price and gave the rest of the money to this girl so that she could move to her moms in California and get them an apartment together and spend a few months with her mom beige her mom died from cancer thst was on the verge of being homeless. So it’s not like I think he’s evil, I just think he believes stupid stuff and is convinced he’s right.
I just try to stay humbled by the fact that everyone on this planet has done things they are ashamed of and most likely believes something that ultimately is not true even if we don’t think so. Does not mean everything gets a pass. Our church will disfellowship people. We have kicked people out of our church because of sin they refused to let go. Like a couple that was both married to other members of our church. They left their spouses and moved in together and kept coming to church. Individuals rebuked them. Groups rebuked them. The elders rebuked them. They did not heed it. So they were told not to come back to church, and we all deleted their numbers and refused to talk to them. They left and got married after divorcing their spouses and moved off somewhere.
I guess ultimately I don’t think it’s a sin to refuse to make up or get vaccinated. I think it’s dumb and it’s terrible because it’s contributing to death but ultimately I just can’t find a way to justify it as sin. Just like I can’t say it’s a sin to joy ride a vehicle despite knowing it’s adding to climate change that is affecting people in third world countries right now resulting in crop failures.
The disagreements about how we should react to Covid pandemic (anti-mask, anti-vax) is just one example of differing opinions within the body of Christ. There will always be disagreements and we have to live with them.
During this week, I attended two group meetings.
The person leading the first group (a prayer meeting) has devoted much of his life to spreading gospel on the streets. He knows the Bible well and can usually say things so that what he says does not provoke persons with differing opinions. Yet, I felt occasionally uncomfortable when he mentioned in his comments things that were strongly on the side of conspiracy thinking - like mentioning that EU is lead by Illuminati. I simply did not say anything to these comments and we had a very encouraging and empowering prayer meeting together. I will definitely go to these meetings again, despite the leading person has his conspiracy thinking.
In the second group meeting, two of those participating said politically motivated opinions about politicians and the way how media responds to their unaccepted comments about immigrants and related stuff (condemned in the court because of ethnic agitation). They were clearly thinking in the same way as the politician who was condemned in the court. I did not share their opinions. Again, I felt uncomfortable but said nothing. Discussion shifted rapidly to matters of faith and we had a very nice group meeting together despite our differing opinions.
We often disagree but we don’t have to overreact and provoke heated discussion about the disagreements, at least not in the meetings where we gather to pray, share our faith and serve the Lord. We can tell that we disagree in private discussions but I hope we can do this constructively. Minor disagreements are less important than the shared life in Christ.
And is that a Biblical Reason to forsake fellowship with one another, or is this something that you believe? (asking this very nicely)
You feel that way because that is what you chose to feel, correct? i mean if you go back to Church will you feel isolation any longer?
So God told you to do this? God told you to STOP fellowshiping with believers? not saying that He didn’t, only it doesn’t sound like God would tell someone to do what is contrary to His own Word.
Go back to Church. Seems to me would be a start would you agree?
The Word of God teaches to not forsake fellowship with believers. If you Truly desire reconciliation with those Christians, it would seem to me that you could easily do so, by going back to Church.
When people start fearing God only, and putting their Trust in Him again, is when this can happen. But as long as people live in fear of the virus/vacc etc, they will be to scared to sit next to one another in a Pew. And sense satan is the god of this world, it is not going to get better, but the world will continue to get worse and worse and worse, to the point where Jesus will have to Return.
satan is the god of this world right now. satan exposes what he wants to, it is his world right now.
[Content Removed by Moderator]
A healthy community is not some ridiculous pretense that we are all the same but an acceptance that we are all different. The point is that returning to such a pretense is not something we should be aiming for. It wasn’t healthy then and what we have now isn’t less healthy – quite the contrary. Frankly, I would be worried that your flock was full wolves poisoning the Christianity that was being passed down to your children. The untruths are just lies no matter what you may pretend as a group.
You can fill isolated even when you’re in fellowship when there is a large gap in scientific health and general views of life.
People are not living in fear of a virus. People are no living in fear of causing others to get sick.
I’m the Torah we see the priests sending the sick to a camp outside of their main camp. These people also all trusted god but put the well being of the others before their own desire.
Early in the pandemic, the pastor at the church we had attended for almost twenty years said that masks would be required for attendance. Immediately he got an adverse reaction from congregation–many of them elderly and vulnerable–who complained that masks impeded their breathing and endangered their health! The pastor immediately backtracked and said he had the same reservations about mask wearing.
We have not been back to church since. My wife is a health care worker at the largest regional hospital in our area. She was in the very first group in the city to get the vaccine. However, Christian friends we have know for years just repeat Fox News talking points and treat the pandemic as a media phenomenon.
I cannot express the sense of alienation we have felt and continue to feel. The world of our Christian acquaintances has become a strange and alien environment (Jer 2:21). You are not alone, and my prayers are with you and your family.
@Darek_Barefoot both propaganda streams contain some truth (selective), too many lies, and a whole lot of spin focused on “the evil other side and our glorious truth.” I have some Christian friends who just repeat CNN talking points. Have you also walked away from your Christian friends in that faction? If not, does this indicate you have chosen a “side?”
Media outlets have discovered that if they make people angry, people are more likely to come back for more. They are trying to divide us! I’m just sayin’, I don’t believe we have that option.
Jesus’ disciples included a zealot and a tax collector. Natural enemies. They both probably thought, “How could Jesus invite someone like THAT into his group?”
I’m not more righteous than others, but there is a Biblical mandate here: love one another. What does that look like in a propaganda war? I think we need to try to engage both sides as in James 1:19, quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Same advice to @Adrienne_Garrison from James 1:19: Listen even when you believe someone is utterly wrong (and BTW, ask questions and you will learn something), speak only when you have earned their trust, refuse to let the other person’s worth be diminished in your eyes. “Love one another.”
I came to the fora today, wondering if this would even be an appropriate topic to broach here. I am so grateful you already did. I will be reading this thread carefully. I am in the thick of it, too.
That’s not much different than a pastor asking you to accept a ride from somebody who has been drinking. You don’t know how much he’s had, and you might make it to your destination without incident, but it’s just not worth the risk.
I see. Dr. Fauci might be a tool of the Deep State worthy of being mocked (as he was at the church I used to attend) or he might be a knowledgeable medical authority. Who can really say? Tomayto, Tomahto.
Charity in all things, judge not, etc. Of course. But prejudice and willful ignorance, especially on the part of Christian leaders and teachers, also compromise the gospel and stumble those coming to faith. When Paul wrote, “You suffer fools gladly” (2 Cor 11:19) he was not issuing a commendation.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sister-in-law (if I’m remembering the incident correctly) confided to a German woman in a food line during WW II that transported Jews were actually being killed. The woman scoffed that she had been listening to propaganda. Who could really have known, right? Who was she to judge?
Ya know, sarcastically quoting from one propaganda stream is not helpful. What’s the truth about Fauci? Where was he right, where was he wrong?
And what makes you think the “ignorance” is “willful?” How are they going to find out what they don’t know if no one with a different perspective will talk to them? Which, by the way, both propaganda streams encourage.
Yes, propaganda is difficult to discern. But remember, there are two streams. Just be sure you’re not rejecting one by embracing the other. The Jesus way rejects them both, looks to embrace people, listens, speaks truth in love. “…patience, kindness, gentleness…” are easy with people we agree with. Times like this require us to up our game big time!