If the past year has taught us anything, it is that followers of Jesus have very diverse perspectives about COVID-19. Some seem to believe it is the greatest health threat this world has ever faced. Others believe it is a scam, a ploy to garner control of the masses. Most Christians are somewhere in between such extremes.
The church is the body of Christ. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:14-18, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Corinthians 12:14-18).
Church leaders need to understand that fellow followers of Jesus will view this differently. Therefore, it’s important that no one perspective is promoted as “the right perspective.” Demonizing people who see COVID-19 differently than we do is telling the foot that because it’s not a hand, it’s not part of the body. Our unity is in the gospel of Jesus, not our perspective about COVID-19.
Over the past year, some churches have experienced the loss of congregants who have left for churches that don’t require mask wearing because they didn’t want to wear one or feel it was necessary, yet their church required it. Likewise, some churches have lost individuals because their church didn’t require mask wearing, and so they chose to begin attending one that did. COVID-19 shouldn’t be a divisive issue. However, it requires sensitive and caring leadership on the part of pastors, elders, and other church leaders to keep it from becoming such.