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Following Jesus’ way

Something that has truly puzzled me lately is how some people seem to think that if they are faithful, they won’t get COVID. Just this morning I was reading a Facebook post from a health care professional who said the notion that Jesus would wear a mask out of love and concern for others is blasphemy. First, that person does not understand what blasphemy is, but more important, this is such a skewed view of God’s love that it does not look like anything I can recognize. Yes, I believe Jesus would wear a mask for his neighbor’s sake as much as he would touch the unclean, eat with the social outcasts and welcome the company of sinners — whatever he could do to show God’s greater love.

Dr. Pete Smith

Jesus is absolutely the healer. When I served in a hospital in India as a chaplain for a month while I was in seminary, I was struck by how many shrines I saw to Jesus in the rooms of Hindu patients. So many were praying to Jesus and embraced the idea of him as a healer. He is certainly the one who through the gospels is bringing hope and healing and wholeness to the people. Yes, faith plays a role in those stories, but healing is not some litmus test to faith. There are certainly people who claim to have no faith who are amazingly healed, and there are those who are some of the most faithful people I have ever met who go to the end of their earthly life through disease with intentional, faithful steps. If somehow faith could heal any disease, then no faithful person would ever die from illness. In fact, if you were truly faithful, you would never ever get sick from anything. That idea has hurt people and lead to deaths in our area.

I know full well that Jesus is the healer in body, mind and spirit, and one day I will know the fullness of his healing when I join the saints in glory. Until then, I will pray for the healing of others, loved ones and even my enemies because that is what our Lord commands and what I want to do. The only way this world will get better before our Savior’s return will be our following Jesus’ way together.

To somehow propose that Jesus could never share in the discomfort, inconvenience or humility of wearing a mask out of love for his neighbor is comparable to claiming he could never suffer the humiliation of the cross. He could have died any myriad ways, but he chose a way of the deepest disgrace to give us his greatest grace. I am grateful to have medical help, simple protective measures and good health care professionals to help us through this unprecedented time, and I will do my part to guard the life that I have faith God has given us all.

REV. DR. PETER SMITH is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at pastorfpc@centurylink.net.