We are all familiar with the Great Commandment – Love God, love your neighbor. If you need a refresher, see Matthew 22:35-40. According to Jesus, our entire moral duty is summarized in these two, twin acts. All that God wants from us is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind – i.e. with our entire being, and love other people as much as we love ourselves. If we do both of those things, everything else in life will fall into line with what God expects.
Easier said than done. The problem is in the details.
Take loving your neighbor in the current pandemic climate. What does it mean to love other people?
One person will say that loving your neighbor means criticizing the government and insisting that small companies be opened to business with careful planning and adequate safeguards just like the big box stores. After all it’s not loving to see people suffer financially, be unemployed or lose their business. That’s just not loving.
Another person will say that loving your neighbor means continuing the quarantine as is. That the infection and death numbers are still too high and it’s not loving for people to go out into public and risk spreading the virus. To change the status quo at this point is not prudent. That’s just not loving.
Each side will have arguments in support of their position and each side will say that they are acting in love. I know pastors on both sides of this issue – men who are doing their best to obey the Word of God; who believe that they are acting in love; who are trying to lead their churches to act in love.
Sometimes, even with statements in the Bible that we think are clear and unambiguous, it’s just not that easy.
While we believe in absolute truth and don’t subscribe to a philosophy of relativism, there are contributing issues that can make your actions loving at one time and unloving under a completely different set of circumstances.
And that seems to be where we are with Covid 19.
So what are we to do? How do we handle situations where good and godly people are on opposite sides, each firmly convinced in their own minds (Romans 14:5) that they are doing the right thing?
The Apostle Paul addressed a similar situation in Romans 14. His advice was that in matters that are not specifically commanded or prohibited in the Bible (such as opening our society – or not) we are to follow the promptings of our conscience.
God has given a conscience to each of us to help guide us in the decisions of life. The more conscience is informed by the teachings of God’s Word, the better it can be trusted to guide you in a godly way. That makes knowing the Bible critical to knowing where to stand on debatable issues.
Even with that, there will be disagreements. And when there is, the loving thing to do is to agree to disagree in a godly way. Then throw yourself on the mercy of God, acknowledging that you may be wrong (it is possible you know!).
Stay in the Word,