A Letter from a weaker brother

Dear Brother,

The past few months have been tremendously difficult for my family. I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I have wrestled with fear over the coronavirus. I have read charts and diagrams that explain medical information I didn’t really understand. And in the middle of it all, I have been cut off from my church family.

We used to gather several times a week. These times were important to me. Fellowship with other believers helped me survive the difficulties in life. I face a unique set of challenges with my son that make every day stressful and laborious. I looked forward to those nights I could sit in the company of other like-minded believers and just digress. I especially liked having people to pray with.

And then I was abandoned. I sat in my house in the dark and watched videos that made my skin break out in a cold sweat. I was certain we were all going to die. I hollered at my mom and dad to stay in because my mom has asthma and is immune compromised – like my son. I figured it was only a matter of time before we all got sick. I’m not afraid to die, but I don’t want to die on a respirator.

Then, a friend attempted suicide and another succeeded. There seemed to be no end to the fear in the headlines.

But one day, a friend who loves me well began to share that the virus wasn’t as deadly as originally suspected. The cases were being inflated by government authorities. I was shocked. Why would health officials and government employees do that? Could they be corrupt? I learned there is a monetary incentive for a COVID-19 diagnosis. Hospitals get thousands of dollars when a test is positive (which is good for those who need assistance—but bad for those who want to take advantage). I learned that many of those passing away had other serious health conditions. We even had the father of a friend who has been languishing with Alzheimer’s for over a decade test positive with no apparent symptoms. He broke his hip and they refused to do surgery because of the positive test. He died within weeks. In agony. They wanted to list COVID-19 on the death certificate.

I began to read journalists who said the PCR test is not a diagnostic test. I also began to wonder how people without symptoms were carrying this plague. It just seemed strange. Then, I read studies that said masks don’t stop the virus. Which makes sense because a wave of sickness always runs through my office in the winter and it seems to pass to others via frequently touched surfaces. My co-workers certainly don’t walk around sneezing on me. (And, I might add, I’m the one disinfecting door handles with Clorox wipes!)

Then, I began to think about my own journey to better health. When I weighed 300 pounds I was sick all the time. I had recurrent sinus infections and bronchitis. I got “stomach viruses” every other week. But after I reformed what I consumed (no soda, fast food, or sugar) and started eating mostly fruit and vegetables, I stopped getting sick. It was incredible. So, I started to think, why am I sitting around here scared of this virus? I have a strong immune system and I take care of my body. Yes, I may still get the virus, but I don’t need to be afraid. My grandmother died at 45 years old in a car accident. Rich Mullins was 41. I began to wonder, if I’m still alive, maybe I should start to live?

But where are the medical professionals who would encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle? Every time I worry about getting sick, I eat oranges, blueberries, and take zinc. I drink a lot of water. I exercise. Come to think of it, I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy. Most importantly, I believe God is powerful and sovereign. Meaning: if it’s his will I get the coronavirus, I will get it. He holds the power of life and death in his hands. And when Jesus walked the earth, he told us not to fear those who kill the body, but rather, fear him who has the power to throw us into hell.

So, I choose not to be afraid.

But the church I belong to has insisted I wear a mask; even though the masks make me sick. I can’t breathe my own reconstituted air. I start to smother and struggle with anxiety. After months of not attending my church so I don’t offend the elders who mandate masks, I decided to go. I went to church because I needed my church family. I miss them. I love them. I felt weak and vulnerable. I missed community. I am not sick. I show no symptoms of sickness. And yet I was lectured and told to get away by members of “the body of Christ”. Worse, they write diatribes on social media to accuse me of “offending the weaker brother by not wearing a mask.” And they never even asked me why I don’t. But here’s the thing: I feel pretty weak. And I feel like the body of Christ is trying to cut me off like I’m a toe with gangrene.

“Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.” 1 Corinthians 8:12

I think about the man who offered to work with my son on a project but then rescinded because he was afraid he would catch the virus from us. I think about the leaders at church who called to question me on why I refuse to wear the mask and insisted that I “obey governing authorities”. But I see “governing authorities” not wearing masks in groups and then mandating them for everyone else. I also see them forcing people to shut down businesses and thus not allowing them to provide for their families while condoning riots. Sure, they offer a government check— but isn’t that making them dependent on the government? This does not seem good to me. I was all for flattening the curve in March but it’s November and now they are telling me to forgo spending time with my family? What’s going on in my society? There is something terribly wrong with this scenario. Am I wrong to question the narratives? Am I wrong to refuse to harm my body by wearing a mask? And why is my church family bullying me? Not one person has called to check on me and see if I’m okay or extend the hand of friendship. But they are the first people to condemn me. How is this love?

It’s not.

I’ve been listening to Rich Mullins lately. He was a Christian singer who didn’t fit in a neat and tidy box. One lyric from his song, “Elijah” struck me. He sang, “There’s people been friendly, but they’d never be your friends. Sometimes this has bent me to the ground.”

It is a dark day when one realizes people in the church have been friendly, but they were never your friends. Or, as another fine singer said, “But if we are the body, Why aren’t his arms reaching? Why aren’t his hands healing? Why aren’t his words teaching? And if we are the body Why aren’t his feet going? Why is his love not showing them there is a way? There is a way.”

Who are these people spinning lies that those not wearing a mask are murders? And why have people in the church believed it to the point that they will condemn those who won’t? Our whole society has become divided over this issue. Doesn’t each person have the autonomy over their body to do with it as he deems best? Don’t I know my body better than the government? And if my neighbor feels safer wearing a mask and staying six feet away from me, I don’t bludgeon and cajole them to stop wearing a mask, so why are they doing that to me? For a culture that was so “anti-bullying” a few years ago, it seems rather ironic that a large portion of society is now doing just that.

Jesus calls me to love my neighbor and pray for those who persecute me. I have done that. But he also says to shake the dust off my feet if people don’t receive the message he sends to them. I serve a mighty and powerful God. I trust Him. He could sweep this virus from the face of the planet at any moment. He controls the wind, the lightening, and every storm. He is so far greater than anything I can think or imagine. And He loves me. I am his adopted child, for which he spent the blood of his true precious son to purchase my pardon. He loves the weaker brother (and sister). Therefore, I do not live in fear.

But I am still the “weaker brother” because I need other believers. I am part of the body of Christ, but lately I seem to stand alone. This nefarious agenda to divide our culture comes straight from the pit of hell and I am sad it has infiltrated the church. How do we fix it? It certainly won’t be by using God’s word to force people who think differently than us to capitulate into doing what they want us to do whether we agree with them or not.

So here is my question: is the church a club, or is it the body of Christ? Because if this is a club, I want out. But if it’s the body of Christ, we are sick and we need someone to heal us.

Bet You Won’t Share This

Kiera Polzin, The Navigator Series

Presley, roaming the stacks…

Who the heck came up with this bully tactic?

I went looking on Google images for a meme with this sentiment that I could use for this post, but I find them so distasteful, (and some of them I find downright offensive), that I just cannot share another meme that includes the statement on the bottom, “Bet you won’t share this.”

To me, it seems as though the statement “Bet you won’t share this” is an attempt to bully me, the reader, to defy the “Bet you won’t” statement, and to instead show them, “You bet I will.”  But seeing this statement does NOT make we want me to defy the statement.  It makes me NOT want to share it.  I just won’t do it.  In fact, everyone I have spoken to about this subject has said that as soon as they see that, they…

View original post 357 more words