12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
John 15: 12-14
3rd Lockdown. Sigh.
It seems like this lockdown is harder than the other two. I’m just so tired of being worried and having to restrict my movements.
And you know what’s interesting – that the rules of this lockdown are absolutely no different from the first one:
Stay at home when you can.
Wear a mask in public
Wash your hands
And keep your distance from other people.
So what happened? Well, a for a whole ton of reasons, we couldn’t stick to those four basic rules.
And there remain many people who refuse to stick to those four basic rules.
Some of the people who refuse to stick to these four rules are my friends or my colleagues. People that I don’t want to be in conflict with. Whole communities of Christians are openly defying these rules. People that I assumed thought like me, well, because they were my friends, or my colleagues or Christian. And the stark truth that they are anti- health care directives has made me angry and dismissive.
Then very sad and basically grieving the loss of the relationship.
It’s at this point of loss of the relationship that I have been brought up short by a little, well, maybe Holy Spirit intervention? You see, my anger has meant that I made the choice to sever the relationship with that person or to disavow a whole community. Now, I’m actually a little conflict-avoidant so all of this ‘severing of relationship’ has been in my head and I haven’t openly confronted or disputed anyone at this point. My ‘anti-mask’ friends have no idea that I’m angry. The church that held a ‘no lockdown rally’ that included mask burning and a whole lot of prominent people in worship has no idea that I have disavowed their presence.
Which is good – because, well, getting called on yourself by the Holy Spirit can be a teensy bit embarrassing!
You see – I’m thinking that maybe ‘laying down your life for your friends’ is not a big epic selfless act where my actual physical life is on the line. I’m thinking that laying down MY life is a series of little, daily acts where I make the choice that its not all about me. That I have to lay down anger before it severs a relationship. That I have to lay down my opinion of faithfulness before I disavow the experience of a whole other church. That I have to lay down the ‘its my way or the highway’ satisfaction with my own beliefs as the best beliefs.
I lay it down because that’s where the love is. I’m thinking that in the Lynne Gardiner Interpretation Bible that these verse in John would read more like “Sometimes you all just have to get over yourselves. Because loving other people doesn’t mean you get your way – in fact sometimes it means that you don’t get your way. But that’s o.k. because remember we talked before about the bottom line is loving each other?”
Now, to be sure, I think their choices are wrong. But their wrong choice is not an excuse for me to sever a relationship with them. Because I’M the one who is called into a place of love. I’M called to this place because I profess to be Christian. I’M the one who has the model of self-sacrifice being held up in front of me.
And so, I will do my ‘Jesus-check’ and get over myself. I will stop complaining that this lockdown is because people don’t follow the rules. I will remind myself that yes, some people and communities are choosing to defy our public health guidelines but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still worth me demonstrating my love and respect for who they are.
And I will wear my mask, wash my hands, stay home when I can and stay a safe distance from others I don’t live with because that’s also part of my love and respect of others for who they are. And I will uphold people in prayer so that we can move forward safely and together.
Blessings my dear Bethel, and remember you are Loved.