The thing I am wrestling with the most right now is how to treat those who see things different from me. I've been reading Stephen Covey's Book, "7 Practices of Highly Effective People" again. In it he talks about how we should seek first to understand before we seek to be understood. To do this, he writes, you must first have your perspective changed to theirs.
In America, most refuse to have their perspective changed. We are too busy lining up to be heard.
I've been very vocal about my view of the government's overreaches in their Coronavirus response. I think the main reason for this is the fact that I was asked to teach Social Studies this year. We've been studying World History in different grades from the Crusades to the Black Death to Lenin and Stalin and Hitler. We've been studying the civil war. We've been studying geography and how it plays a part in trade and the spread of disease. In short, I feel like my life is filled with information about what to watch for about disease in history. Disease takes many shapes. It can be a religious disease, government disease or a physical disease. We are studying all of them and how they interact with each other.
As a result, my perspective is rooted in those events. A few friends of mine, Jamie and Patrick, who both have a medical background, have very vocally pushed back in different posts. People who don't know my history of sparring with each of them would probably think we hate each other. I actually found the conversation starting to wear on me. But, something else changed as I begin to pay attention: My perspective was one sided. I was viewing things from just a government standpoint.
I've realized there is a great danger during this time to health care professionals and their joy that they find in helping people. When people rush the hospital from a real or perceived threat, it overwhelms and destroys those who are tasked to deal with it. When they aren't equipped, they get even more frustrated about those dying around them. It's no wonder they are so passionate about people complying with the orders of the government. They see the cause for the orders.
In essence, I'm remembering to examine my perspective.
If you had to grade yourself on how open you've been to other perspectives during this time, how would you do?
Are you like me and are just rushing to be heard?
Do you find yourself only researching sources of information that will reenforce your points of view?
Do you actually read the links and the information from those who hold a different perspective or do you just rebut the titles?
Do you view those who hold a different view than you as the ones who are weak in their faith? Think about this one for a minute.
If you believe the Coronavirus must be dealt with at the most extreme measure to stop its spread, do you think those who are worried about the government's "overreach" just don't trust that God is at work in the government?
If you believe the Coronavirus is overblown and is now being capitalized on by special interests from communists to extreme capitalists, do you believe those who trust the government have a weak faith for not trusting God to deal with the disease?
Jesus said something very interesting when he started his ministry. He got up in the temple and proclaimed that he was the Messiah by reading from the scroll written around 700 years before by the prophet Isaiah. He claimed that he was the one being written about.
The religious leaders' response was disdain. He said to them (paraphrasing), "I can hear you now, asking why don't you fix the mess you came from then?" His response, "Is a prophet accepted in his home town? No! This is why I can't fix the mess I came from." "Additionally", he added, "didn't you notice that with all the widows going hungry during the great famine in Israel that God only sent the prophet to ONE widow!? Didn't you notice that there were lepers all over Israel but God sent Elisha to heal only one of them?! God didn't heal them all!'
Now, I've read that and paraphrased it for you from Luke's account of Jesus' life in chapter 4. Luke was a doctor, of course he would notice such a statement!
I've never noticed it before today, but what it seems to say is that God doesn't show himself to all people the same way. God doesn't heal everybody the same way. God doesn't tell those who can heal to go heal everybody.
But, he did tell them to heal some. He did tell them to go to some.
God has a different perspective than you!
You know what this means? This means that God could keep an entire church safe from a virus if they decide to meet and have faith that is what he is telling them to do. This means that God could be telling other churches to disband and to go do ministry in other ways if they have faith that is what he is telling them to do.
It means that I don't get to look down on Christians who are more concerned about the virus than anything else. At the heart, I am not questioning their understanding of government or data. I am questioning if they are seeking out God in their decision and that makes me their judge, which is a place I shouldn't be!
It means that you don't get to look down on Christians who feel like they should be out praying over people and meeting together to encourage each other and worship. When you do, you aren't questioning their knowledge of medicine. You are questioning if they are seeking out God in their decisions and that makes you their judge, which is a place you shouldn't be!
Paul summed it all up this way in his letter to the Romans:
"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand....13Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean....But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."
Wow. I know that was a lot to read. But did you get the point?
Whatever does not happen in your life because of your faith is sin.
In essence Paul is saying what I want to say today: Whether you go to church, the store, another person's house, or whether you stay home; Don't do it because somebody else told you it is the right thing to do. Do it because you have faith that is what God is asking you to do.
And, in this climate, in this time when you have time to be alone with God, what better time than to ask God what he wants? What better time to have your faith built by listening?
What an awesome world we would live in if we went back to viewing brothers and sister, even those in the government and medical fields, through a faith colored lense.
Now, THAT would change our perspective.
How to change your perspective
Wrestling with this?
Pray this prayer with me:
"God, help me to see what you are up to in each individual, in each circumstance, in each government, in each church. Help me to hear your voice before I hear other's. Help me to be still and KNOW that you are God."