I want to talk about masks.
I am not an epidemiologist, or a doctor, or a nurse. I am not an elected official, I am not an appointed to any health board. In fact, no one has asked me.
But who would have thought that something so small could be so devastating? If someone had given me a week to invent a way to ruin community spirit as swift and as sweeping as possible, I’m not imaginative enough to have come up with “mandatory” face masks.
I am not talking about their effectiveness to limit catching or spreading viruses, let alone the risks of coronavirus. I am not addressing the legality of governor’s ordering behavior from the people apart from the consent of the people. I am not referring to my personal comfort wearing one, or not. I am speaking, as a pastor, about what masks are doing to people’s hearts.
More than fear, masks are winning at raising suspicion. Masks are stirring up first-feelings of distrust, even dislike. Like the law increases sin, masks increase suspicion.
Suspicion is a form of love, of self. You can get together a group of self-lovers, but you can’t build a community of them. There can be temporary alignment, but not true giving or serving or sacrifice. Whether or not masks inhibit the flow of oxygen, they are certainly inhibiting the flow of charity.
Paul wrote to the Galatians about using their freedom not for the flesh, but for serving one another in love, in which “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” The contrast to this is killer.
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Galatians 5:15)
This is a kind of eating you can do with a mask on. You can eat like this without a mask but with your mouth closed.
Either we will bite each other and be devoured, or we will eat and drink Christ. He loved and loves us, He calls us to love and serve each other, the weak and the strong, and to live in harmony.