Why I Should Have Worn a Mask

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March 6, 2022

1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

CONSIDER THIS

I am a resident of the United States of America. I am a citizen of this country, technically speaking. In the most real sense, I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. I want to be clear, though, I love America. I have a lot of sadness and disappointment about the direction this country is taking, but I love this country. I often jokingly say, “America is the worst country in the whole world, except for all the rest.” If you are living in another country, I hope you feel the same way about your country. 

Do you know the greatest thing you and I can do for for our country? We can be Christians. And then Americans. Most Christians in this country are American Christians. In other words, they are Americans first and Christians second. A real Christian is always and forever a Christian first and an American (or insert your country) second. 

As I dwell on today’s text, I find myself coming under its conviction. This will be controversial I recognize, and I don’t impose it on anyone, so I will share at the level of my own experience. Throughout Covid-19, I despised masks. I didn’t want to wear one and I avoided wearing them as much as possible. I also did not want the government telling me I had to wear one. I heard all the arguments on both sides of the masking war—CDC this, Science that—ad nauseam. I heard all the comments about wearing masks as the most Christian thing we can do to protect others. Still, I didn’t want to wear a mask and avoided wearing them as much as possible. As I read today’s text, though, I feel the conviction that I should have gladly worn a mask, not because it was somehow Christian to do so, and not because the authorities commanded me to do so, but for the sake of Jesus Christ. 

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority

As an American, something in me wants to thwart, rebel against, and otherwise resist the authority of the government, especially if I disagree with their decision or rationale (which I admittedly often increasingly question and doubt). But as a Christian I have to honestly reckon with the Word of God:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority

Here’s the kicker. Peter (and in other places, Paul, and even Jesus) was not writing to twenty-first century Americans who live in a federal constitutional representative democratic republic. No, they were speaking directly into a context where the government was headed by despotic dictatorial leaders who were actively and often ruthlessly oppressing them. In other words, Peter didn’t have the likes of Joe Biden or Donald Trump in his mind. He was thinking of a leader and a government more like Vladimir Putin. Does the name, Nero, ring a bell? When Peter says honor the Emperor, he is talking about Nero, one of the most cruel, merciless, ruthless, tyrants in the history of the world. 

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority

Notice he is not telling us to submit for our sake, to avoid hassle and trouble. He is not telling us to submit ourselves to the government for the sake of others. He is not telling us to submit ourselves to the government for the sake of the government. No, the Word of God is telling us to submit ourselves to the government for the sake of Jesus Christ.

As an American, I can hardly stomach the idea of submitting to a cruel, tyrannical, dictatorial leader. As a Christian, I don’t see how I can avoid it. This clearly poses a dilemma for me and perhaps for you. This is one of those places I wish the Bible said something different. I wish Peter had inserted an “unless” in there, as in “unless the Emperor goes too far and impinges on your rights to this and that and the other,” or “unless the President is a complete reprobate or imbecile or on the wrong side of the aisle.” I always tend to want to say my situation is different or somehow exceptional. It is different, alright. It’s a million times better than the situation Peter was addressing. And he didn’t mince his words. 

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority

And I rebelled over wearing a mask. I should have worn a mask—for the sake of Jesus Christ.

I’m afraid it turns out I am an American Christian after all.  

I just want to be a Christian. And then an American. 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. I hear this word from Peter’s letter, and I bristle. I rebel against it. And then I think about you, Jesus, who stood before Pontius Pilate, and didn’t stand up for yourself. You hardly said a word. It is astonishing really. Holy Spirit, let this word do its work in me. I don’t like it. I don’t want to do it. And yet I can’t get around it. Save me from my myself. I love my country. I love you more. Work that out in me. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Am I missing something here? Am I wrong? Am I misreading the text? Maybe you disagree. Why? How? Can we let the Word be the Word, even if we disagree with it; even if we don’t like it? Help me here. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

16 COMMENTS

  1. The Bible also says wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord but if a woman is in an abusive relationship we advise her to call the police, leave, or do what it takes to protect herself. Another point in this country abortion is legal. Should a Christian Dr or nurse assist in this horrible event? Governing authorities say its ok. Another point, the Bible clearly instructs that lying is wrong but when Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill the Hebrew baby boys they lied and said they couldn’t because births happened too fast and God rewarded them. So, to your point. Should Christians have masked? I did when it was required but I also firmly believed masking, the way the general public did, was more harmful than good. I believe it was physically and emotionally harmful especially to our children. Is my obligation to protecting children more important than submitting to authorities? I don’t think this is one of those black and white Biblical things. I think it’s one of those things we had to study and pray about and then proceed as we felt led. I wore and still wear a mask to Dr appointments. I wore a mask when I flew on a plane. I wore a mask to church when they said I should. But every moment I was not required to mask I did not. I think my witness of Christ stood firm throughout the pandemic masked or not. Thank you for your devotions. They have truly made a huge difference in my life. I am a physically disabled middle age woman with a husband who was diagnosed with early onset dementia a couple years ago. God has used your words so many times to encourage me and to give me direction. Thank for letting Him use you. But I’m not sure the masking thing was the place to go in regard to submitting to authorities. 💜

  2. JD, this is indeed a tough call, and I too have wrestled with this whole protocol myself. Living in Texas, a red state, has made it a bit easier. For me, the fact that these, in my opinion draconian measures, did not originate with either president but rather our Federalized medical community. I don’t see this as a rebellion issue as much as a trust issue. How can anyone trust what they say when one realizes that they are being less than honest, or that some of these policies are actually damaging to an individual’s health and welfare. I’ve understood this whole Covid mess to be a prime example of a spiritual conflict. I believe this is yet another attempt by the enemy of our souls to further divide Christ’s Church and divert us from our calling. I believe that Satan can also sense that we may be on verge of the next great awakening and this is a desperate attempt to undermine it.

  3. Wow, Bob, you said it perfectly – I would like to wholeheartedly say “ditto” to your entire response. I’m from your “sister” red state of Tennessee and I also struggled with it for the exact reasons you named. This is indeed a hard one. Thank you J.D for sharing your own struggles with this issue, and thank you Bob for putting into words what so many of us have been seeing/feeling.

  4. I hear you courageously “speaking the truth in love” and with humility, even though the text goes against what you have personally believed and done. I’m greatly inspired by your willingness to let the Holy Spirit convict you and change your deeply held opinion. That’s a sign of a true Christ-follower. If we never let the Holy Spirit change a strong belief that we hold (or a feelings-based behavior that we’re doing), then we’re probably following our own desires and emotions rather than the living, resurrected Jesus. Thank you for listening to the risen Jesus and then saying and doing what He tells you!

  5. Bob, Wearing a mask is a draconian measure? I do it because I am an American. It has definitely saved lives. I don’t won’t to hear about your freedom or your red state when my brother just died of covid!

  6. So are you saying Moses should have been killed as a baby? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego should have bowed down to the king’s image? What about Daniel? More recently, what about the Underground Railroad? The Holocaust? I too thought masks were ridiculous and still do. But I wore a mask when I had to go into an establishment that required them. I did not “honor” the authorities that told us to wear masks in our own home and to not gather with family and friends for the holidays. God gave us discernment. I’m thankful people in the past went against worldly authorities because Christ was their ultimate authority. I enjoy your daily text and always appreciate your views on scripture. Thank you, JD! Great spiritual food for thought.

  7. JD, I appreciate your thoughts and insight on this passage. This is one case however, I feel we need to consider this in the light of other passages. If the three Hebrew children had obeyed the authority over them, they would have bowed and worshiped the statue. Daniel would not have continued to pray to God. And, had the apostles, including Peter, listened to the Sanhedrin, they would not have preached the Gospel. What makes these decisions so difficult is where do we draw the line? While wearing a mask has no spiritual implications, it does open the door to greater control by the government. If both biblical and world history teaches us anything, it is that once we start down a slippery slope, it is harder to stop the slide, or as Jesus put, “A little leaven leavens the whole batch.” These are difficult days we are living in and each of us must be sensitive and obedient of both the Word of God in its entirety and the leading of the Spirit, mindful that they will never contradict one another. God bless and keep up the good work

  8. It was a very confusing time as politicians dealt with the moral issue of a new disease the medical community did not have a handle on. The messaging was often muddled and contradictory because the government was trying to promote absolutes when there were no absolutes to be had because everybody was on a learning curve. And it gave an opportunity for government overreach. And some churches were revealed as being more American than Christian.

    I finally gave in and learned to wear a mask for many reasons. Ultimately, my family got covid and the source was my husband’s boss who was very lax about wearing a mask and neither did my husband when he was interacting with his boss.

    The other thought that comes to mind is that Christianity came into existence under tyrannical governments. We are used to an atmosphere of acceptance which is being severely threatened. Our faith exists because the founding fathers saw the benefits of people having faith in something else beyond ourselves. So, are we so wrong to want to stand our ground re what was a basic right that was initially granted to its citizens? People have come to America because it offered freedom of religion/personal conscience. It is an identifying mark of being American.

    initially America was about creating a space where people could live their lives without undue government intervention. in fact, it was one of the founding fathers who said the best possible scenario would be for the federal government to be at a standoff with itself because then people would be free to live their lives. The filibuster in the Senate was put in place to keep one group from overriding another group. The electoral college keeps a heavily populated state from inflicting its will on less populated states………..

    Is it so wrong for us to want to stand our ground when it comes to our beliefs?

    Of course, the current situation is also forcing Christians to decide who they truly belong to: Ceasar or God! Something that definitely needs to happen!

    • Betsy, regarding your final line; I couldn’t agree with you more! It could also be the very reason that God allowed all this to take place.

  9. The reason you are allowed to spread the Word without oppression or worse is because a group of people stood up to the government in England about 250 years ago. Should they have backed down? God has blessed this nation because it was founded on Biblical principles. America is the greatest nation and best place to live on planet earth. People sacrifice life and limb to get here from other nations. Unfortunately, Satan is dancing in the streets and making some serious strides and I fear we will soon go the way of Europe with respect to our faith. The pandemic struck fear in so many, exacerbated by the government, and church attendance may never recover. No, you did the right thing by not wearing a mask.

  10. JD-What a thought provoking post. I agree with willingness to examine your loyalties to the Kingdom of God and America. I agree we should strive to be Christians first and Americans 2nd. A few years ago, I had to face that my love of my country was an idol in my life. I have also struggled with how much responsibility I bear because I am part of a representative government and besides voting, I do not get involved in politics. I agree with you that we should submit to the government’s authority as part of being obedient to God. I worried at one time how far this obedience goes. Then I remembered Shad & the boys: they were obedient to Nebuchadnezzar until they had to bow down to the statue. There can come a point when we must stand up for the Lord against the government. But it is at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. All I can do is pray for discernment, pray that I hear the Holy Spirit and pray that I have the courage.

  11. I agree with what you have stated, JD. However, I wonder what the American colonists would say? I understand we are to submit, but is that an unquestioning submission? If the leader does sinful things or keeps oppressing his/her people, is submission always the answer? Is there a line that, when crossed, allows rebellion?

  12. Thank you, JD.

    Your humble willingness to speak the truth in love is what drew me to and keeps me learning from these daily posts. They are especially powerful when, as here, you share your own journey, struggles, and even perhaps stumbles. Again, thank you!

    Two things especially convicted me today, one circumstantial and one textual. Circumstantially, it’s very easy for me, in my life of comparative ease and unquestionable abundance, to somehow see my world as the “worst” possible world. Hah! What a spoiled little boy I still am (even at 63). Whether looking at the world as a whole or at the circumstances of Peter, Paul, Jesus, or other 1st century believers, I haven’t yet even begun to taste the real edge of suffering that we may be called to bear up under. Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned.

    But, your textual comments, which are always keeps me anchored in these postings, absolutely grabbed (and convicted) my heart. “Submit. . . . For the sake of Jesus Christ . . .” Wow, I’ve read this passage many times and have likely made the same point more than once. But, today, coming out of the last 2 years of COVID and many places in my life and work where the tensions of “do I” or “don’t I” or “should I or shouldn’t I” were very real, it never occurred to me to remember that submission is not for my sake or that of of my employer, my government, my political party, or even my family. Rather, it is for the sake of my Lord Jesus Christ.

    FOR THE SAKE OF . . . Somehow the advance of the cause and way of Christ occurs or is hindered by whether or not we, as his children, submit for His sake (as He submitted for our sake). . Forgive me, Lord, for forgetting you so often in the midst of this mess, especially for forgetting that it’s for your sake always (when I like it and when I don’t) that I’m called to submit to the governing authorities.

    I believe, Lord, but (for the 100th time) help me with my unbelief.

  13. I have to respectfully disagree, JD. As others have already cited excellent examples concerning protection of family, the unborn, and others, obeisance to the government – any government – should not automatically be considered a Biblical given. The exhibitions of Fascist tendencies by ordinarily benign nations like Australia and Canada are, I believe, signs from the Lord that individuals have to look to the Word and to other Biblical examples for guidance, not solely on cherry picked translation excerpts of Peter’s letters, which a) might have additional contextual meanings lost in translation, and b) like Paul’s comments about women speaking in church, have era and cultural contexts that are contradictory in light of other Bible passages and historical truths.

    That same Bible passage from 1 Peter is frequently used within the church to compel obedience and can often lead to abuses of power, as PTL, the Unification Church, and what we have seen within the Vatican all readily have displayed. God gives us discernment for a reason – the Enemy is good at the deception warned about in 1 Timothy 4, and the fact that so much anti-Christian Marxist rhetoric and practice has been allowed to take hold within the current culture at large makes the blanket call for submission to government authority even more suspect, as the Covid-19 hysteria has now given way to mindless warmongering to start World War III for the benefit of elites and at the expense of innocent millions.

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