This image showed up in my facebook feed (linked to this article). Obviously the quote is disturbing. If it was “MY Health” it would not have been so troubling… but to tie my liberty to others’ health, to the over 58,000 people who have died alone (and counting). This highlights selfishness. Which exists in every corner of our world. But to the church our rights as Americans beg a question, what is Christian Freedom?
Paul clearly answers this in 1 Corinthians 9. He is building off an argument in chapter eight on meat sacrificed to idols. Unlike our culture, meat was a huge luxury. Often only affordable during pagan holidays, when the meat sacrificed at temples was sold cheaply. Paul announces there is only one true God. Therefore, knowing the pagan temples are empty houses, Christians have the freedom to eat this meat. But he acknowledges some, having come out of pagan worship, have a weaker conscience. So Paul then states, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall (v13).”
Turning to chapter nine Paul outlines all of his rights. The rights of an Apostle. A powerful leader – the church’s greatest missionary. The author of half the New Testament. More than any of us he could claim rights, but he sets these aside, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible (v19)”.
As Americans we are free. A beautiful blessing. But American rights should not supersede our Christian calling. We are called to love our neighbor. Even our enemy. And to love is to submit.1 No one can love while asserting themselves over others. To love is to set aside my will, “not my will be done”, that others may be saved.
So while I have the right to assemble, I will love my neighbor and wait. If wearing a mask will save a life, even the life of my enemy — especially of my enemy, then give me gloves to wear as well. That ALL might be saved.
1 The word submit is loaded. It is often only applied in one direction. To one gender. But that is misreading the scripture. A wife’s submission is united with a husband who loves as Christ. This Jesus – all Christian’s example – declared “not my will” and submitted to the cross. So please do not read this as a round about maneuver against women’s liberation. I do not want a return to the consequence of the fall. God has liberated us from sin. Why would I go back?! No I want to move into the Kingdom. To walk with God as we once did in Eden. So in marriage I act out the love of mutual submission. Where I submit my will to do what is best for Megan. For my children. For my church. For my world. And Megan is called to love me as Christ loves the church. It brings us closer to heaven’s paradise.