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PSA: Extra Grace Required

The day is finally here – this Sunday, June 28, we will assemble together again in the house of God to worship. Had we known on March 8th that it would be 16 weeks before we gathered once again for corporate worship, I think we would have breathed it all in, savored each moment and hugged each other a little tighter before we left that day.

My family is looking forward to this Sunday with so much excitement, and I am praying it is a beautiful celebration of the Body of Christ assembling once more.

Gathering again could have its pitfalls too. To be honest, I’ve gotten a little quirky in quarantine – and I’ve seen it in others too. It’s what happens when your world is so small. God meant for us to live in community and when that is taken away, we lose a whole area of growth.

And people are all over the map in regards to their re-entry. I am so grateful for the patience of my friends and family as we have taken a conservative path to re-entering. And, yet, I know people far more cautious than us. How you have chosen to re-enter is a personal decision, and it is so important that we extend grace to others.

Healthcare workers who put themselves at risk for the safety of others may be upset by seeing a dozen cars parked outside their neighbor’s house. People judge parents who bring their children grocery shopping with them. My husband and I both went in to a coffee shop last week to order and the workers acted as if we were carrying deadly weapons into the place! (I didn’t realize only one person per party was supposed to do the ordering, and they certainly did not extend grace!)

On the other hand, there is a lot of information out there about the dangers of prolonged mask-wearing and, of course, we all know about the risk of over-using antibacterial products. People who don’t have pre-existing health conditions may feel very comfortable to hug and even want to build their immunity back up by close contact with people. And that’s legitimate too. What you decide for yourself is your decision. This is still the U. S. of A., after all.

And the church of all places is a place of freedom: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) Amen! Praise God for the freedom we have as Believers in Jesus Christ. But the Bible has a lot to say about our personal freedoms.

Consider these verses, emphasis mine:

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)

Though I am free of obligation to anyone, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. (1 Corinthians 9:19)

What could possibly motivate us to surrender our freedoms? How about it fulfills the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2) and it demonstrates our reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)? Those are pretty good reasons.

So when we come together, let’s put our personal decisions to the side and follow the rules set up by our leaders, who are doing their very best to make sure we all are safe.

Let’s remember that this has been a time of real fear and anxiety for many, many people, and I know we all want worshipping at Island Christian Church to be all about our amazing God.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [or mask-wearing or hand-sanitizing or hand-shaking], but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:17-19

Let’s put off judging and put on grace as we gather together, for the glory of God!

Lauren Marlow

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