|I hate masks!!|
This is probably no big surprise to you, but the reason why may be.
Teach Them Diligently is now ten years old, and we first started these events because we prioritize the importance of discipleship in families through homeschooling but also because we believe strongly in the power of people getting together.
We believe there is something innate in our Creation that God placed within us that longs to be with others.
We are meant to be together and supported by a community. Life on life; soul on soul. We are not meant to be alone—at least not completely alone.
But, getting together is not just a desire in each of us. It’s a gift from God. We have great joy in being around others like us. Discipleship happens naturally when people gather together and care for one another.
I want to take a moment to introduce you to an important ancient Greek word that the Apostle Paul used to describe Satan and his strategies.
Pleonekteo is used four times by Paul (2 Cor. 2:11; 2 Cor. 7:2; 12: 17-18; and I Thes. 4:6), and it is usually translated as outwitted, or taking advantage of, or cheating someone out of something. The idea of this word would be taking away something that is rightfully ours. Something that we possess or we have right to that is taken from us because we lose sight of it.
Either we are distracted by sleight of hand and it is stolen or we unwittingly hand it over without a struggle.
The idea is that God has given us peace, joy, love, and other blessings because we are His child, but Satan outwits us into giving up these gifts.
We give up
-peace for anger;
-love for judgement;
-abundance for envy;
-sharing for embarrassment;
-one another for security; etc.
The gifts of God are ours because of Christ’s triumph, but we don’t act or realize this victory. We get conned.
This Spring we have had two events, so far,—one in Nashville and another in Rogers, Arkansas. With more coming! And, what I have learned is no matter what the situation is that masks threaten to steal the show.
Now, these events were victories, and they were sweet. They were worth all of the effort. Lives were changed! People were encouraged! Homeschoolers became more confident! And, new friendships were formed! Oh! And, curriculum and resources were purchased at great prices!
But, all of the attention immediately went to the masks when we first gathered! Not the mission, or getting together finally, or Christ, or the families, or curriculum, but the dumb masks!!
The masks in Nashville elicited very strong responses from people.
Sadly, we had some attendees yell at security guards who were checking masks. Then, there was a security guard that told a woman with a medical bracelet that he was going to kick her out because the bracelet was a fraud (it wasn’t a fraud). All told, there were probably 20% of families that came in previous years that refused to come this year because they didn’t think we were serious about masks. We had another 20% that came in previous years that refused to come because they were not going to wear a mask.
In Rogers, there was a whole host of people that made decisions on coming purely based on masks. Then, when we got to the facility, the rules had changed so much that masks were not truly expected. Therefore, by Saturday, very few were wearing a mask.
Several months ago now, I wrote an opinion piece about the greatest tragedy of the pandemic being the personal or human factor that was being lost. You can get to that story here.
My main point of this story was that the greatest tragedy of the pandemic has been what it is doing to us mentally and how it is ripping people apart. Churches were not meeting, and many still are not! Holiday gatherings were postponed! Many families have not seen grandparents and older family members in a year.
My point here is that I hate masks because wherever people typically gather or whenever they consider gathering, the mask takes center stage.
This little piece of cloth usurps any vision or goal in gathering. Who is wearing it? Who is not wearing it? What does the mask say? Is it over the nose? Is it a real mask or just cleverly disguised mesh?
It covers our smiles and frowns. It keeps us from talking and hearing each other. And, it is a pain to deal with when singing. But, if you don’t wear it in some areas, you are the most selfish of the selfish. You are un-Christlike! Self-righteous!
Yes, I really do hate them. But, not because of my liberty or freedom. Masks don’t make my face break out. I don’t hate them because of these reasons. Although, I do empathize with those that hate them for these reasons.
The reason I hate masks is because their existence destroys connections between people. The mere subject of masks destroys families, churches, and any other connections that humans need.
Yes, wearing masks creates a separation. No doubt about it!!
We can’t communicate the same with masks as without them.
But, the base question of masks divides hearts and minds.
Churches right now are being ripped apart over this issue. I talked with one man from Kansas at our event in Arkansas that said that the elder board at his church asked him not to return because he did not want to wear a mask. I talked to another lady in Greenville that told me that her church asked her to leave and give up leadership positions in the church because she disagreed with the church’s stance of not meeting. I talked to another couple this weekend that said that there are several churches around them in Illinois that are still not meeting because they can’t decide what to do regarding masks.
My point is that we have to make a decision. What do we prioritize? Our liberty…Our comfort…Our health. Or, do we really prioritize community?
This is a question that must be answered…do we really prioritize community and coming together as followers of Christ?
Do we believe that getting together as Christian homeschooling parents is essential to the experience?
Our institutions and churches cannot claim to be essential to life and then stop serving people when things get tough. And, right now, I think we are being conned. Taking from the ancient Greek word above, we are being Pleonekteo as Paul would say.
We are willingly giving up a gift and blessing from God. Outwitted! Taken advantage of!
The little piece of cloth has ripped us apart as a nation; as a church; as a group of believers. It has muted our witness and testimony of the victory of Christ.
Don’t get me wrong…I certainly value things like freedom and liberty (even the right to breathe air without lint). But, there are things more important.
We should move heaven and earth to get together as Believers. It is a gift and blessing. God created us with a desire to gather. Don’t allow anything to keep you apart. Don’t be outwitted!
I know…this mask issue is important to some of you. I understand! I will even grant most of your arguments supporting not wearing or even wearing a mask. My point is that gathering as Believers usurps all other complaints.
We are being conned into giving up the blessing of gathering because of a little piece of cloth.
This little piece of cloth is in every conversation I have right now. It is like the weather. Most of us agree that something doesn’t seem right. Things are uncertain. They don’t make sense. And, we are frustrated and angry. Some are fighting battles over it. And, I want to make sure you know that I am not advocating giving up our freedom or liberty or to acquiesce to government tyranny. I am also not telling people to risk their health.
What I am encouraging and urging is that it is time to do what ever needs to happen to gather! It is essential that Christians gather in worship of God and support of each other. It is worth whatever!! This is not like a trip to a store or going into the office. It is much more serious than that. We need this! Sure, we can disagree on masks, but we should not forsake getting together.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25)