Masks. They’re a thing these days. Not the fun superhero kind but the cover your nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs kind. For healthcare workers, it’s always been a way of life, but for the rest of us, it’s a new normal, like it or not. As with absolutely anything and everything in life, the whole mask wearing thing has caused debate, conflict, and full on division among humans…no surprise there. I’m not thrown by it and I don’t even care which side of the argument you stand on. Your feelings are valid…your thoughts are yours…your life has meaning and purpose…you’re smart and your opinion matters. I know that you have had experiences in your life that have led you to the space that you’re in and that’s okay. So have I. I don’t want to change your political view or challenge you to a debate and I certainly won’t argue with you. I simply want to explain something about the mask that I choose to wear. You see, a whole bunch of you have commented on it or asked about it. When I go into the grocery store, on the occasional Target run, into the DMV, or my favorite place to grab a bite, people have something to say about it. My mask is very plain…it’s black and in an unassuming white font it reads, “because i love you”.
“because i love you”. It’s the reason I do the things I do. Love. It’s what this journey is about. Period. End of story.
You see, when Jesus walked this earth, He said, “So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.”
The “love each other” part wasn’t new. It’s all throughout the OT. The new part was, “demonstrate your love for others in the same ways I have loved you”. Mind. Blown.
Love each other… sacrificially… unconditionally… wholly… desperately… deeply… empathetically… shamelessly… graciously… faithfully… unrivalled… with no end! Well, that…that was new! Jesus forever changed the benchmark for love.
This love thing…it’s kind of a big deal. Later after Jesus gave the command, Paul, a former Christian hater turned Jesus lover explained this whole love thing in his own way. In a letter to a group of believers, He says, “If I am the most talented human on the planet, if I have the gift of communication or teaching or I have a ton of money or I give everything I own to the poor or die as a martyr, but I don’t’ love people, well then I’m annoying…I’m bankrupt… I’m NOTHING.”
Are you getting it? Nothing matters but the way we love. Saying I love you… nope… nothing if you don’t actually love. Believing that Jesus is who He says He is… nope, gotta love too… doing a bunch of good deeds or churchy things… nope not enough…
But it gets even better. I mean, seriously, so good. Paul goes on in this letter:
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
You see, love is not a feeling.
It’s not making googly eyes at each other. It’s not this great desire to spend time with and do nice things for a certain special someone. I mean it can be that but that’s just a side deal…it’s not love. Love is action. Love continues to exist even after the butterflies go away.
Love is for ALL people not just the ones that give you butterflies.
All of our talents and efforts will fade away one day…you talk about a canceled culture, c’mon! One day when Jesus comes back all the stuff we thought mattered and that we cared about and spent so much time worrying about will be canceled!!!!!
One day all of this life will make sense to us, but until then, we have three things to do: Trust God (faith), hope, and love. BUT the most important one is love.
Faith and hope are dead, sterile, selfish things if not accompanied by love. Why? Because faith and hope benefit the possessor of those things but love always benefits another and the whole point of this faith journey is to consider others to be more important than ourselves!
I believe with everything that I have that Jesus is the one true King and that we can live with hope in our lives no matter the current circumstances, which means everything that we do is going to be screaming the action of love.
Why do I post and blog? Because I love you. Why do I clean up after my dog? Because I love you. Why do I eat vegan? Because I love you. Why do I use my words to encourage? Because I love you.
Why do I plan events that have an online option and an in-person option? Because I love you. Why am I always changing things up and trying new things? Because I love you.
But it goes far wider and deeper than just my life or my ministry.
Why do you obey your parents on the first ask? Because you love
Why do you refuse to gossip? Because you love
Why do you refrain from talking ugly about other people? Because you love
Why do you use your words to encourage and promote other people? Because you love.
Why do you take care of your kids? Because you love.
Why do you sometimes choose to not have an opinion? Because you love.
Why do you forgive? Because you love.
And now here is where the rubber meets the road on all this mask business…are you ready?
No matter which side of the spectrum you stand on…if you are on the side of, “wearing a mask is pointless and an infringement on my freedom" or you wear a mask and a face shield and a full on hazmat suit while driving in your car alone or you are somewhere in the middle,
if putting a mask on would make someone else feel safer, then that’s the loving thing to do.
We cannot claim to be Christians… we cannot say we follow Jesus… we can’t even claim Him as the one true King if we refuse to love the way that He has commanded us to love.
And here’s the thing, I know not everyone lives by this. I know this world is hard. I know not all Jesus followers always agree with this, but we can’t worry about what other people do or don’t do. But we can link arms and love each other so well within this community that it just oozes and overflows all over others.
And make no mistake...love is a contagious act...wearing a mask that expresses your love and respect for the personhood of the person reading it is making a kingdom impact. Just a couple weeks ago I was standing in line at a local thrift store. I was wearing my because i love you mask. There was a woman in line in front of me with her 3 small children. She was trying to keep them very close to her. They all had medical masks on. At one point one of the little got too close to me for her mom's comfort and she turned to apologize to me. She paused as she digested my silent message to her and then she asked, "Is that for me?", as she pointed to her own mask? "Yes!", I answered her. I could see a huge smile brighten up her eyes and she responded back to me, "Well, I love you too". Drop. the. mic.
That’s why I wear a mask that says, “because I love you.” It’s because I really DO love you. AND I really am glad you’re here.
If you want to join me in this statement, let me know… I have a mask for you too!