Above the Spire +

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my faith, and how my faith impacts those around me. Especially with the events of 2020 and the fallout from the election and otherwise emotionally charged year we’ve had in the US. I think we’ve gotten ourselves into trouble. In my camp, I had to deal with putting our regular fires over lines of political thought that had been taken to extremes. This year we were locked up in our homes for altogether too long, and because of that isolation, what would have been any other year became something of a fireworks show. I think in a large part, the events of the year were blown to extremes because as we remained at home we were all but forced to watch the goings-on from the sidelines.

While I was thankfully employed through the lockdown, I got to see first hand the degradation of society over the year. Customers at the restaurant who were otherwise frustrating but at the very least compliant became outright ridiculous when the mask mandate took effect. I ended up in more than one shouting match over the mask regulation, so when I was released from work and back in my own life when people around me complained about the masks I could barely stop myself from rolling my eyes and flying off the deep end to battle them in the dream-scape of conspiracy and control. It was wholly baffling to me that something so simple could be taken as such a sleight.

I wondered then, back at the beginning of this eternally long year, if my priorities were straight. For a while, I wondered if the mask mandate and the lockdowns were worth following. I did because my job demanded it, but I began to wonder really if it was worth it.

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,”
Titus 3:1

I considered the words of my peers, especially those older than me. Even in the restaurant at the time I was faced constantly with the same sentiment.

“Our Governor doesn’t have the authority to force us to wear masks.”

Which, I heard plenty of times as someone waltzed through the sales floor of our restaurant and one of the servers reminded them, to which they started rattling off the ideals of the constitution to us. In this context, I got tired of hearing people cite the First Amendment. It quickly became a war of ideals in the “essential” worker industry of putting steaks on plates and giving them to people who had next to no patience, that the First Amendment was to be taken above all else. So… I did what they wanted. They used their freedom to not wear the mask, I used our freedom to tell them we wouldn’t serve them. See, freedom goes both ways. That’s the nice thing about freedom.

Look at the biblical context, God gave us the ability to choose. He allowed us the free will to choose between Him and anything else. He won’t stop us from walking away, we decide to give up on Him. Yet he still allowed us the free choice to make that decision. He could have, if He’d wished, made us obedient against all other odds. He could have handpicked us and made it so that those of us who follow Him could not have refused, and yet he didn’t.

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Mark 8:34-35

In context, Jesus was telling a crowd how it would be for him, that He would be rejected, suffer, and die before his resurrection, and Peter, my guy, didn’t buy it. After all, if you believed that this dude you’d met was the son of God, the literal incarnation of Goodness in the flesh, and he came talking about how he was going to be put to death by the same dudes he was trying to save, I’d have words too.

Still, this verse implies that we must choose to follow Christ. We must choose to do what is right. So, it begs the question, why were we so against the masks and the social distancing from the jump? We can pretend like people were okay with staying home and obeying the guidelines from day one and then it slowly turned to being flippant by the halfway point but it wasn’t like that. The day after the regulations were put on us I heard people complaining. Chiefly among those complaints was what I’d written above. That the Governor doesn’t have the authority to force us to wear masks or close or whatever, and sure if you dice it up to fine tacks he doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that we should have been so flippant in the face of the directive.

See, as I’ve been on social media more often with Mean for the Holidays, I’ve noticed that some countries are opening/have opened back up almost completely. I saw a rather ironic screenshot of an article about Wuhan, the place where all of this came from, being open. People out and enjoying their time. Yet, on each account, I’ve seen post the article they’ve come back with the same general sentiment. It sounds something like…

“This virus was a trick all along, there was no virus, it was all about control.”

Or my personal favorite,

“Why are we still shut down then?”

To that, I have to be honest, we’re still shut down because people were disobedient and intentionally flew in the face of suggestions that had to then become regulation. We were so entrapped in our personal freedoms and our fear of government overreach that still, nine months later, we are in the same cycle. We had to brute force our way through the virus instead of just listening to people who study this stuff for a living. Before I get any further, let me cover some topics that this post isn’t about…

No, the virus was not a plan to attack the US. – The virus is still around because we refused to listen when we were recommended to take precautions. So we were all but forced to do so. (Which, we weren’t even really forced to do. Most of us who were laid off during the lockdown didn’t need to leave our homes. You can order groceries on your phone, you can do almost anything you need on the internet nowadays. Most of the people who broke the lockdown regulation were people who just simply didn’t want to stay home.)
No, the virus is not harmless. – Sure, it isn’t as deadly as we assumed it was, but I have an issue with America’s flippant, almost lustful desire for death. We will let people die left and right and all but ignore the cause, but I’ll get to that later.

No, the virus is not a symbol of the end of times. – Not any more than anything else is. If you’re out there calling COVID-19 the horseman of Pestilence, talking about how we are almost to the end, I want to remind you that there are countries right now that have been warring since before I was born. That’s almost 30 years my guy. Either The horsemen have already come and begun their work, or they haven’t arrived at all and we are still in for the worst of it. Either way… you can’t stop it.

With that out of the way, I want to get to brass tacks. See, God gave us pretty clear instructions for our life. Sure, the book is huge and we can interpret it in many ways. Each time we read it we will get new messages, it is the Living Word, after all. Still, it’s pretty clear how we should look to the scripture in regards to authority…

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Hebrews 13:17

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
Romans 13:1-2

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Romans 12:17-19

So, yes, our Governors gave us a directive, and we should have obeyed. We chose not to, because of that tasty, tasty freedom, and here we are nine months later with 300K deaths, and we now boast the new epicenter of the virus in our very own Los Angeles. So, we’ve lost the ability to call it the China Virus, like we so flippantly have referred to it as it’s our Virus now. It’s wholly our problem. After all, we refused to listen because we believed what?

The closest I can see is that we saw ourselves as more important because “It’s got a 99% survival rate.”
This is true, absolutely, but you know… condoms have a 99% success rate at preventing unwanted pregnancy, and we still fight tooth and nail for abstinence. If 99% isn’t good enough for us when it comes to new life, it shouldn’t be good enough for us when it comes to life that’s already here.

However, I know this problem goes deeper. We are worried that the world is going to take over, that we will be persecuted beyond anything we’ve ever seen. That the world will put those of us with faith in Christ under their thumb, and to that, I have to wonder. Why is it that we claim persecution for our beliefs? Not one time has someone put a gun to my head and raped my wife. I’ve never been shot at or stabbed or tortured because of my faith, but there are people in the world who are living that.

Right now.

A mask is the least of our problems, and we should remember that we have it easy here in the U.S. Our freedom allows us that, and we shouldn’t forget it. We also shouldn’t let unwholesome talk come from our mouths, and I’ve heard a lot of that lately.

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
Ephesians 4:28-30

So we have it then, that we are to submit to authority, we are to do what is honorable in the sight of all, and to live peaceably, and I’ve seen no reason thus far for the mask on my face to force me into war with another. So I challenge us this much, let’s let the nation do what the nation wants to do.
Let’s do what God expects of us while we wait for them.

Maybe this message is a few months too late, maybe we are nearing the end, and having this discussion now is past the mark, but it doesn’t end at masks. It ends in your heart. I’m not sorry to tell you that the masks we wear, the isolation we’ve endured all pale in comparison to the sacrifice Christ made. And I think to myself sometimes, why He chose to make that sacrifice.
Because we are sick.

Our sickness is of the heart, and the soul, and we cannot be healed but through Him. This isn’t anything more than what I’ve learned this year, and how I’ve tried to live. I hope to continue to learn and grow and be molded into the man God is building me to be. Even if I trip or stumble.

I hope I can remember this year for what it was, the best chance for us as a community to turn towards grace and compassion and I hope I never forget how this year made me feel, less graceful or compassionate than I’ve ever been. I hope that in the future when I’m put into a corner like this again, I will remember that Christ sacrificed His life for me to heal me, to help me, to save me.

I hope I can remember in the coming days to do those small, sometimes frustrating, often obnoxious things for the same reason.

“And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Matthew 25:39-40


If you enjoyed today’s writing please share it on whatever social media outlet you enjoy the most. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out The Grimoire of Finality where you can read all of my incoming fiction writing. (It still has that new blog smell.)

I hope something I’ve said made a difference in your life, and please always remember…

Life is not meant to be awful.

Catch me on social media if you’d like to get more info/updates on what is soon to come!

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@alvatobiasbooks

Salt & Iron Productions

(On Facebook)

-AT

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