Nobody likes consequences. I don’t like them. You don’t like them. Relient K hates them.
But they’re real and unavoidable. Get pulled over for speeding, you pay a fine. You can be mad all you want, but…consequences. You don’t water your flowers, and they die. Frustrating, but…consequences. You’re upset with decisions being made by the governor? Elections have consequences.
We can whine and complain all we want, but the truth of the matter is that we are blessed to be in a country where we have a part in the nation’s decision making process. We have a voice. We can vote. We can contact our representatives at any level of government, and we will almost always get a response. We can even get heavily involved in choosing the candidates for various offices.
However, instead of being involved, most people just sit at home and complain. Well…if you aren’t involved…consequences.
The Bible talks a lot about consequences. Often times it calls them ‘judgement’. That struck me yesterday morning. It was our first Sunday following the MN governor’s mask mandate that requires masks indoors. I know that the order is not popular with my church congregation. I also know that the Bible teaches that we are to respect governing authorities. That makes for a complicated decision-where is the line between standing up against what we believe is wrong, and respecting and submitting to leaders that are put in place by God.
As a side note: to some, the idea of pushing back against a mask mandate is ridiculous: its there for the protection of our communities, it has science behind it, and its a small thing in the scope of a worldwide pandemic. For others, a mask mandate is a clear violation of personal freedoms in the face of an overblown situation. I’m not going to argue either direction on this, but both sides of this argument would do well to listen a little more to the other side.
Regardless of what is done day-to-day, I firmly believe that Sunday morning church is not the place to take this kind of stand. The church should be above this argument-the work of the Kingdom of God is far beyond whatever petty thing this world is dealing with. If we can follow the rules placed on us and still do the work that God has called us to do as a church, then we follow the rules at church.
Another side note: I fully support those churches in California that have chosen to violate the order placed on them to not meet. We are called to gather together, to worship with songs and hymns and spiritual songs, to study the Word, to love God and love others.
While I was preparing for church yesterday, I had to make a sign asking people to wear masks in church. I took a lot of time to prepare the wording. I knew some people would be mad, and I didn’t want that. On the sign I put the following passage:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.Romans 13:1-2
The second verse there stood out to me: there are consequences to our decisions, and making the wrong decision brings more than just some earthly consequences like a threat or a fine, it potentially brings with it judgement by God. That isn’t good.
We don’t often consider our decisions in life with the idea that judgement by God is something potentially hanging over us. We talk about making right decisions, about following God’s leading, and about being faithful. But we don’t talk about the consequences of when we don’t do those things. We will be judged, and that can be bad.
This passage has often stood out to me:
For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.Hebrews 10:30-31
The thing that stands out to me here is the fact that this is written to God’s people, the church, and not to non-believers. Christians are the ones that are falling into the hands of the living God, as a consequence and as a judgement for following our own desires rather than following God’s calling and commands.
We have a lot of decisions to make, every single day, and right now there are some big things going on in our country that require us to take stands: elections, virus response, social justice issues, marriage and sexuality, religious and personal liberties…the list goes on and on. I pray that we take the time to think biblically about our decisions, consider that the judgement of God will be on us when we choose to act selfishly or pridefully, and that there is forgiveness for us when we do make mistakes.