I was lying awake in bed early this morning and found myself praying. Praying for my family and friends, praying for “my enemies.” I don’t really think I have enemies. This is a phrase Jesus used, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. I think of it as praying for those who don’t like me or who are on opposite sides of issues from me and so on…and then I prayed about this virus and asked for a safe and effective vaccine.
But then it dawned on me…like a light bulb…we have a vaccine! It’s called love, it’s called compassion, it’s called care and kindness. Jesus also talks about this a lot. In fact he says it is second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The first being, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
We could easily get this virus under control if we only followed this simple command.
What gets me is that we hear so many Christians in the United States saying, “We are a nation founded on Christian principles!” I disagree. I think we were founded on religious freedom. But my point is, so many Christians shout from the rooftops regularly that, “We are Christian Nation!” Well, if that’s what you believe, and it’s something you want the world to know, shouldn’t you act like it by following this command of Jesus?
If we all just loved our neighbors enough to stay home when we are asked to stay home, to wear a mask for a while to help keep each other safe, the virus would diminish. We know this to be true because other countries are seeing improvement in their numbers. Look at New Zealand. Their government cared enough about their people to immediately put in temporary restrictions to slow and stop the spread. AND the people loved their neighbors enough to follow them! They loved their neighbors enough to listen to their doctors and scientists. They put the health and safety of one another first.
Here in the United States, we “Christians” are too concerned with our freedoms to be bothered with the teachings of Jesus or even just common decency.
We have an illness in the United States that is much more deadly than COVID-19, and it’s called selfishness, self-centeredness. Our nation is riddled with it. It’s in every corner and we don’t even try to hide it in the dark anymore. We put it right out there for every one to see and call it nationalism, freedom loving… I don’t even know anymore. The world is turned upside down and I’m dizzy with it.
I love being able to get out and visit with friends and family, too. I miss going to our church buildings to see each other, as well, but I love you all more than I miss any of that! Maybe it’s easier for me because I’m a bit of homebody and an introvert. But I will tell you that I LOVE my Zoom meetings and Zoom get togethers. I’ve grown closer to some of my church members through these. We laugh and enjoy one another’s company over coffee/tea. I’m making it work because I don’t want my family, friends, or neighbors to get sick!
I’m not going to lie, I’m not doing this as perfectly as I should and I really need work on doing better. But I will wear my mask. Yes, it’s uncomfortable but I don’t mind being a little uncomfortable if it will help us get rid of this virus. I want to see my family again! But right now, their safety and health is much more important to me.
I’m not really sure how best to rid the world of that other illness I mentioned, but I’ll start with me…by wearing my mask, by loving my neighbors, caring for them. I’ll do my part by checking my anger and not letting it rule me. I’ll work to shower love and goodness in the world around me. I’ll spend less time on social media and the news so that it doesn’t keep me riled up. I’ll focus more on the people around me. I’ll spend time in nature – gardening, walking, taking photos, listening to the breeze blow, the birds chirp, and the frogs croak. I’ll take time to pray…for you, for me, for all God’s creation. I’ll be willing to follow the advice of our doctors and scientists, even if it means setting aside some of the freedoms I usually enjoy, knowing it’s just temporary. This too shall pass…we can help it along by being the light in the world…by loving our neighbors as ourselves.