There has been a lot of talk lately about Arkansas Act 1002, a law passed by the legislature that prohibits local governments and state agencies from instituting mask mandates. There are those who are in favor of the law, and there are those opposed to the law. Some people have been very vocal, either in their support or their disagreement. These voices have, at times, crossed the line from healthy and passionate discourse into unhealthy and un-Godly name-calling, belittlement, and just plain rudeness.
There’s actually another 1002 that applies here – Luke 1002. Luke 10:2 is a verse where Jesus is preparing to send the disciples out into the surrounding towns to share the Gospel and he tells them, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” What a powerful reminder for us during these difficult and polarizing times. There is a great harvest out there waiting to be reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ, and God is calling us to go and shine his light and share his love. It’s hard to do that when we don’t start conversations about important topics from a place of love and grace, ready to listen as much as speak and respect opinions that may be different from our own. I love what Paul tells the Colossian Christians: “Live wisely among those who are not believers; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Col. 4:5-6). These verses prompt me to ask myself: Have my conversations been gracious and attractive? Have I missed an opportunity to draw people to Jesus by my tone, my arrogance, or my spirit? The harvest will be left on the vine if we don’t find a way to reveal his love and his offer of salvation in a way that is pleasing in his sight. As John tells us in 1 John 4:12, “If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”
So please, as you are debating Act 1002, don’t forget Luke 1002. Don’t forget to be gracious and attractive in your conversation, and don’t forget that God’s love is brought to full expression in us as we find a way to love each other, even when we don’t agree. This will be critical not just for our witness to the world but also our witness within our walls here at Central in the weeks to come. I’m sure you’re aware that the CDC has put out new guidelines regarding the wearing of masks indoors (regardless of vaccination status) due to the rising number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from the Delta variant of the COVID virus. We are aware of this new guidance and are monitoring it closely. Our Board of Trustees, the body with fiduciary responsibility when it comes to policies affecting our campus, have called a special meeting for next week to consider these guidelines and what they might mean for Central. Please be in prayer for this group, for your pastors and staff, and for our church as a whole as we seek a way forward that is God-honoring. We will be keeping you up to date on anything coming out of that meeting, so be looking for an email next week.