Engaging With Grace and Compassion
Now that churches and other groups have the freedom to gather, two competing priorities are in tension with each other. Christians know that nurturing spiritual life and relationships with loved ones is as important as sustaining our physical health, yet we continue to coexist with a highly contagious and deadly virus. As we continue to dialogue around striking this balance within our church communities, a new threat is emerging: the way we are treating one another. Our witness should continue to be a priority even in the face of fears, concerns, and disagreements with others.
Our witness should continue to be a priority even in the face of fears, concerns, and disagreements with others.
Will you join us as we seek to remember the following:
- Each and every person around the globe is experiencing this pandemic. With global exposure, comes global perspectives. Each experience and worldview is radically different. Our neighbors and fellow Christians may be living an entirely separate reality from our own—a reality, which in no way negates your own perspective, or theirs.
- We are all operating out of grief over what we have lost—family, safety, security, education, transportation, employment, freedom to assemble, etc. We all carry a certain amount of anxiety, fear, or anger from this pandemic. Let’s remember to cast our own fears and anxieties on the Lord, rather than onto one another. Now is an opportunity for us to seek to understand others’ grief, fear, and worry.
- We continue to hear conflicting facts. You might know medical staff who report that the pandemic is only becoming worse. You might know other medical staff who have been laid off because hospital hours have slowed so significantly. Some of us have remained employed; others have lost their jobs and livelihoods. Some of us are concerned about housing; others are disappointed that graduation ceremonies, weddings, and vacations are cancelled. We all hear stories each day that shape our own understanding of the virus.
- Avoid assumptions. We have reached a point where expressions like wearing a mask somehow determine your political party, your level of community care, and your education level. Rather than categorizing and condemning our neighbors and fellow believers, what if we all took this time to assume the best in others? What if our conversations were geared towards understanding rather than confrontation and winning? “Look for the truth in what you oppose and the error in what you espouse” – Ronald J. Nash
- Our citizenship belongs to the kingdom of God, not earth. Accordingly, our responsibility to love and extend grace to our brothers, sisters, and neighbors must be prioritized while protecting our religious freedoms and constitutional rights. Christian discourse should not be hurtful, and pandemic polarization should not lead to ungodly confrontation and division.
We strongly encourage churches and organizations to follow CDC and other public health guidance regarding social distancing, disinfecting, and preventing spread of the coronavirus. As tensions rise, now is the time for Christians to display abundant grace and understanding in their care for others.