In November 1527, Martin Luther responded to an inquiry as to “whether it is proper for a Christian to run away from a deadly plague.” The essence of his letter is that it may be right to flee, or it may be wrong, therefore each person should assess their own situation, and no one should condemn another for their conclusions.
In our current crisis, we must come to the same position. All of us have responded in a variety of different ways based on how it has personally affected us and our loved ones. It has caused physical suffering through illness or death for some. The emotional suffering continues to grow whether from isolation, fear, or depression. For some, you have faced relational suffering due to differences of opinions and perspectives. Yet others have suffered spiritually with anger at God or disappointment that He hasn’t acted. Or maybe you have experienced a combination of these.
But as followers of Jesus, we cannot and must not allow this suffering to divide us. In Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17.20-26, despite the coming trials, He prayed that “we would be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that God sent Jesus and has loved them.” However you are processing all of this right now, know that the leaders at CalTab are praying for you, care about you, and want to walk alongside you.
Now, we are faced with the announcement from Governor Hochul to wear a mask indoors over the next month. This may be a difficult pill for many of us to swallow. However, I am reminded of the three priorities we shared in 2020 when this all began. We want to…honor God, honor the government and honor our neighbors. How do we do this when it may not make sense?
Here are 3 responses that we, as followers of Jesus, need to consider.
First, according to 1 Timothy 2.1-3, we need to be in daily prayer for the governor and all those in authority, no matter their perspectives. This pleases God.
Second, the next few verses (2.4-6) tells us why. Because “God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” We cannot lose sight of the mission to help people take their next step on the journey to Jesus.
Third, in light of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.13-17, God tells us to submit to the governing authorities. However, because we are a church, we will not prevent people from attending services or worshipping God due to their response.
As such, we are encouraging you and your family to wear a mask at CalTab until January 15, but we will not police how you choose to respond to our request.
This is not a letter that we wish we had to send, but we need to remember to love each other, respect each other, and not allow Satan to get a foothold in our lives or our church.
As we close, a quote from Martin Luther is apropos to our current situation. “We here give you our opinion as far as God grants us to understand and perceive. This we would humbly submit to your judgment and to that of all devout Christians for them, as is proper, to come to their own decision and conclusion.”
Pastors, Staff, Deacons, & Trustees
P.S. Here is where you can find Martin Luther's letter: https://reporter.lcms.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Plague-blogLW.pdf