My wife, Andrea, is a very dynamic and talented person. She is passionate and not afraid to share her thoughts.
Recently, Salt Lake County imposed a mask mandate which caused tension at our local church.
Andrea wrote a very well-thought-out & prayed-over email, of which I am sharing as the focus of this post. The names have been changed to protect the privacy of those mentioned in her original email.
I began writing to Pastor Smith about why I will not be wearing a mask to church ever again, and henceforth not be able to serve in children's church until the mandate is lifted, if ever lifted. Then I figured I would just share with you all myself. I want you all to hear simultaneously from me about why I will not wear a mask so as to not make assumptions by hearing it secondhand.
It seemingly induces fear, anger, and division in the body of Christ instead of joy, hope, and unity. We are called to the latter and to stand for the latter at all cost. Inside the church should be the last place on earth where we encourage half truths, lies, fear and tyrannical abuses of authority to find any kind of approval. Even if there are certain medical people within the church who have decided to agree with all of it in the name of “science.” We do not need to appeal to their authority.
The masks don’t work! (Especially the cloth ones and the silly on again, off again theatrical routine). They have become a way for certain people to virtue signal and give value to the masks over relationship. To me, they simply communicate and represent that the church has fallen prey to what culture deems as worthy (Life on earth is to be exalted!!). Non-Christians (and now many believers) love (almost worship!) their mask and the false sense of security they provide. Not to mention the kids probably don’t have to wear them and they come off for snack. The hypocrisy and inconsistency is too much. I could send you study after study about their inefficacy. If I am indeed sick, I promise to stay home. Period.
If the joy of the Lord is my strength, but the children cannot see my face, it just becomes babysitting at that point and the church has plenty of money to hire babysitters. I can, do and will serve the church body in other ways.
It will never be “just a mask” to me. Anytime you say “just” before something, you know it’s not “just” to some people (pun intended). Even to say they are “encouraged” in the church seems to be a way of spanking those of us who will not bow to them and leaves the mask lovers believing we are somehow being insubordinate renegades. Encourage literally means “give support, confidence, or hope to.” So to say that masks are being encouraged but then allowing people to not wear them is inherently confusing and really quite divisive in of itself.
People can still "stay safe at home." However, when Jesus saw the leper and the many sick that he healed, he wasn't staying "safe" at home. Why? Because Jesus doesn't call us into safety. He calls us to be sheep among wolves (Mat 10:16). Pretty much the least safe we could EVER be. He didn't first put on a mask and gloves and then pray for the sick and extremely contagious. Why? Because not only is earthly fear sin, he also knew that even if His tent, earthly body was destroyed, he had an eternal building waiting for him (2 Cor 5:1). And yes, I understand, having wisdom and wearing a mask and gloves for a surgical setting is not living in fear. But I think we all know, this is not that. We are encouraging healthy people to wear masks that literally don't work in the name of safety (they're not), science (which denies their use), and the government telling us to do so.
Truth be told, I am preaching to myself because I struggle with fear. I struggle when people I love are sick. I hate it. Sometimes Willie will not tell me when he is in pain or sick because he knows I might worry. And I also hate when I worry. I must repent and turn from it. And just because I struggle with it or when I choose to cover up my sin by arguing it's ok or with literal fabric, does not make it more ok!
Many have said to me … "but Andrea, what will we look like to the world if the church is not submitting to these mandates?" My answer is simple. The world HATES us. They will always look for a reason to HATE us. If we shut down the church, stopped corporately worshiping God, and turned Risen Life church into a food bank so that the world would see the "good" we do, is that in accordance with God's will for us? Is our goal to look "good" to the world??
Pastors Joe and Jack, I am forever grateful for your leadership, wrestling with us, coming into our home and hearing our hearts on this. I'm sorry that you have to listen to me yet again. And apparently, I've only become more fervent in my convictions since we spoke last. I hate being the "difficult" member. I really do. It's probably why I have been sitting on this email and praying about it since Sunday. I've contemplated that leaving would just be easier, but I know that is not the answer.
I want to submit to your leadership. I want to serve the church body. I want to reboot the prayer team. But more than any of that, I want to submit to what the Lord has laid on my heart … calling the church out of her fear. Challenging them to read their bible (never changing) instead of watching the news (notoriously biased, inaccurate and ever changing). Calling them out on conforming to the patterns of this world, especially and specifically within the sanctuary, where the government has no place. We know that in this world there will be trouble, but we are supposed to take heart because HE indeed has overcome the world! I saw fear in believer's eyes on March 13, 2020 and I still see the fear in their eyes. When is it time to call them out of fear and into the light? When will it be time?
With a sincere and (quite;) passionate but loving heart,