Pastor Michael Bowman
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ps. 86:15)
As I write this, we (at least in our corner of Wisconsin) are starting to approach what it looks like to start returning to pre-Covid conditions. Obviously, there are many things that won’t immediately go back to “normal” and there is much of the future that remains unknown (almost all of it). As a Church, we have decided to start meeting back together with limited group sizes, extending to multiple services if needed.
Now that we are going to start gathering again, it seems important to me that we are all reminded that as Christians we need to be gracious to one another. Remember that is who God is. Look at the passage above. He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, he abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness. That is what we should seek to be like as well. So what does that look like moving forward?
When someone doesn’t come back to church right away, be gracious. You don’t have to condemn or judge another, and you don’t get to try to bind someone else’s conscience. When you come to the service and you see someone who isn’t wearing a mask, be gracious, it doesn’t mean they don’t love their neighbors. When you come back to church and you see people wearing masks, be gracious. It doesn’t mean they are full of fear and don’t properly fear God. The temptation of our flesh at a time like this is going to be to construct a new legalism that allows us to pass judgements on others in order to condemn them for their choices. Don’t do that, be gracious.
The way forward is not as clear as social media pundits would have you believe. It’s not necessarily evil for someone to want to open up the State and return to church. It’s not necessarily evil for someone to want to remain home for a time. Be gracious to one another. It would be far worse to be infected with the spiritual virus of bitterness, animosity, unrighteous anger and judgmentalism than to be infected by any physical virus.
So, friends, as we slowly figure out what it looks like to not neglect meeting together and to corporately worship our Savior, lets not forget what he is like. He is merciful, gracious, forgiving, slow to anger, and abounds in love and faithfulness. Be like him.