Reflections by James Simpson July 2020
by James Simpson
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)
Go to where people congregate, and look around. In the summer of 2020, you are likely to see people wearing masks. This is very unusual. Our earthly authorities tell us we must wear masks to save one another. To emphasize their point, they make not wearing a mask illegal in certain places.
Cloth masks over faces is a constant reminder of an unprecedented situation. We've gone through a paradigm shift, and we are told to view every surface, object, and person as a potential source of contamination, even the air we breathe. We might best sum up the message of these times in a familiar form:
“The virus is in our midst! ...It is and ever shall be.”
And we see communal church worship itself singled out by the authorities. It merits special attention. They are concerned that churches could be epicenters for infection. And we should hope they are correct, but not for the reason they say.
Our churches should be epicenters... for the “good infection” of putting on Christ. (To echo an idea from C. S. Lewis's “Mere Christianity”.) Every soul that enters the church should strive to catch this “Christ-infection”: to become infectious with the spirit of Jesus Christ. To spread it to others. To spread it worldwide.
But is our own “putting on Christ” as evident, to those around us, as us wearing a cloth mask would be? Is our light hidden? And is our vision of, and concern for, our neighbors' eternal souls as clear as our noticing if they wore a mask?
Had we ever, in our lives before all this began, gone into a church and viewed every person and every icon, every object and even surface as filled to bursting with the spirit and remembrance of Jesus Christ ...for more than a few fleeting moments? And with more vigilance and awareness than the suspicion we presently have of our churches' people, icons, objects, and surfaces during this time of disturbance?
Sadly, most of us who call ourselves Christians would need to be "tested" to even know if we possessed this "good infection".
Using a term our authorities promote: Are we "asymptomatic carriers" of Christ? Or even worse, if tested are we merely "false positives"? Will Christ say to us, "I never knew you," when our time here is over?
Whatever the case, we Christians have the true remedy for spiritual sickness: repentance. Christ the Healer will administer this remedy Himself, if we will partake of it.
We should not put our “trust in princes ...in whom there is no salvation”. Their aim is ever toward stifling the "good infection" of Christ, inoculating us with the distractions and pleasures of this world, and catechizing us with a creed of sterility. Sterility in every sense of the word.
How different would that message be, if our rulers had our eternal health in mind? It might be something like this:
“Christ is in our midst! ...He is and ever shall be.”