Peace with God through Jesus Christ

"SO MANY OPINIONS! WHAT SHOULD I DO?!” – Olive Press Article for August 2020

I don’t know about you, but I feel inundated by all the strong opinions about what we should and shouldn’t do and how we should and shouldn’t act in the face of this COVID19 business. And it’s so easy to get caught up in these discussions ourselves – so that we start voicing really strong opinions—even against our friends, our fellow Christians, and church members! There are some among us who are so adamant about following the guidelines of the CDC and the WHO—who feel that we are not doing enough to stop the spread of this disease—that we should be doing more than just mandating masks; and they make compelling arguments for why we should all comply. On the other hand, there are those who are so opposed to the executive orders and mandates that are being handed down by the Government. They are adamantly decrying the loss of liberty and are suspicious that there is some agenda at play here by power-hungry individuals that don’t actually care about our health or well-being. Their points are also well-presented and thought provoking.Frustrated
“So, what do I do as I consider these two extremes and my own place on this spectrum?  Where do I fall?” This is a question I’ve been asking myself as I’ve been critically thinking through these things—as I’ve been seeking to let God’s Word and its directives guide my conscience and thoughts through this big mess.
Maybe you can call it a cop-out, but I’ve settled on doing my best to ditch both extremes and to chuck really the entire spectrum. Instead, I’m going to double down on what St. Peter reminds us of in 1 Peter 2:11-12:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and temporary residents in the world, to abstain from the desires of the sinful flesh, which war against your soul. 12 Live an honorable life among the Gentiles so that even though they slander you as evildoers, when they observe your noble deeds, they may glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Honestly, how important in the “big picture” of eternity is this current issue of COVID19? How much should it really affect us? Can we maintain “living an honorable life” seeking after “noble deeds” if we allow our strong opinions about this matter to get us emotional, complaining about, angry with, acting out against, or improperly judging others? This is incredibly hard to do as we get caught up and fearful about all these issues surrounding COVID19—whether it’s on one extreme or the other!
Isn’t Peter’s encouragement in these verses liberating? After reading through these verses in a personal devotion, it dawned on me: “Why am I getting so caught up in this? Why am I worried about these things? This place isn’t my home—I’m just passing through—I’ve got no real stake here. This place—this world—has been doomed from the start because of sin. I’ve got a far better place where there are no worries that will afflict me. And I’m already a citizen of that place. Thanks to Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins that He’s won for me, I’m a citizen of Heaven! That’s where I can direct my mind—that’s what my focus and concern should be. Forget all this other garbage. COVID19—HONESTLY, WHO CARES?! Even if I end up coming down with it, and dying from it, what do I have to worry about or fear? Thanks to God and the salvation He freely gives, I am immortal and will be dwelling with Him in glory!”
Will you join me in refocusing on this Biblical truth? As you might be tempted to go down the rabbit hole on one side of the debate or on the other, would you take a moment to breathe with me and to reflect—and to sing: (ELH 474; by T.R. Taylor, 1807-35)
1. I’m but a stranger here,
Heav’n is my home;
Earth is a desert drear,
Heav’n is my home.
Danger and sorrow stand
Round me on every hand;
Heav’n is my fatherland,
Heav’n is my home.
2. What though the tempest rage,
Heav’n is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage,
Heav’n is my home;
And time’s wild wintry blast
Soon shall be overpast;
I shall reach home at last,
Heav’n is my home.
3. There at my Savior’s side
Heav’n is my home;
I shall be glorified,
Heav’n is my home;
There are the good and blest,
Those I love most and best;
And there I, too, shall rest,
Heav’n is my home.
4. Therefore I murmur not,
Heav’n is my home;
Whate’er my earthly lot,
Heav’n is my home;
And I shall surely stand
There at my Lord’s right hand.
Heav’n is my fatherland,
Heav’n is my home.
-Pr. Luke Ulrich