Masks and Revival
“O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2
This is a challenging article to write. At current, we are in the midst of a wonderful year at our church, even in the middle of the world seeming to be falling apart in 2020. The theme this year for our church is “With God All Things Are Possible.” We have seen answers to prayers and people getting closer to the Lord. We have seen personal victories in the personal lives of our church folks and unity and anticipation in the middle of our church body. The messages we have heard from the pulpit have been precisely what has been needed to help our folks go forward. The recent messages and decisions have pushed us to the brink of revival. It is because of what God is doing at the Riverview Baptist Church that I feel the need to write this article, so we don’t lose the ground and victories the Lord has provided for us.
Our governor has seen fit to put across a mandate to require masks throughout the state. In our current state of our country, this is a divisive and strongly opinionated decision. As for the members of the Riverview Baptist Church, we need to understand how to respond to this mandate in the light of the Bible and the spirit of revival He wants to bring for us. Here are some guiding principles for us to follow.
Authority Has the Right to be Wrong or Stupid
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.” I Peter 2:13-18
In dealing with Biblical authority (which civil government is), we have to recognize that authority is allowed to be wrong or stupid. In reviewing the Biblical idea of submission to authority that as long as the authority isn’t asking us to do something illegal, immoral or unbiblical, then we are to do our best to obey that authority.
The current mask mandate isn’t illegal (in its current state). The present mask mandate isn’t immoral. The current mask mandate isn’t unbiblical. That means we must do our best to submit to our Biblical authority. I honestly believe our current governor is attempting to do what he believes is right. I might not agree with him, but he thinks this is what is best for those under his authority. (This is a simplistic view of politics, I know, but we must give him the benefit of the doubt.)
What is Submission
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” I Peter 5:5-6
If we are to be honest, the only reason why anyone has a problem with the mandate is that we don’t like it. We can come up with reasons and objections and statistics to help validate our view, but in the end, it is because we don’t like it. But God is allowing us to examine our own hearts with this mandate.
When we agree with authority, that is called unity. When we disagree with authority is requires submission. Submission is only practiced when we disagree with authority. Websters 1828 Dictionary defines submission as is “the act of submitting; the act of yielding to power or authority; surrender of the person and power to the control or government of another.” Basically, instead of fighting for our “rights,” we willfully accept another’s will.
God has often used the authority to test or prove whether someone was submitted. One example of this principle is in Deuteronomy 8:2 “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Submission is God’s way of telling what is in our hearts.
Websters 1828 Dictionary also gives another definition of submission, “Resignation; a yielding of one’s will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring. Entire and cheerful submission to the will of God is a Christian duty of prime excellence.” To test if we are genuinely submitted comes the murmuring and complaining test. If authority tells us to do something, can we complete the task without complaining? There is a difference between compliance and submission. If you ask your teenager to clean their room and they do it but not without banging and murmuring and complaining, they might be compliant, but they are not submitted. Submission is a matter of the heart. Submission isn’t merely doing the Lord’s will; it is delighting in it.
Submission Isn’t Silence
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” I Peter 3:1-4
Now some people have a problem with submission because they have defined it wrong. We don’t lose our voice, and we don’t use submission to make slaves out of people. Submission isn’t silence: it is saying the right things and the right time to the right person with the right spirit. Because submission is a matter of the heart, how we deal with things that we disagree with is essential.
For example, if I say something incorrectly (and as a public speaker, I have more of a chance of that happening), my wife doesn’t stand up in the middle of a sermon and announce how stupid I am. She will wait until she has me in a private place, like my office, and kindly and respectfully tell me that I shouldn’t have said that. Because of her meek and quiet spirit, I trust her more, and she has earned influence with me. The more of that meek and quiet spirit she has during times I, as the authority, am wrong, the more that I will trust her counsel. If she instead yelled and berated every decision I made, she would have no influence or trust in my decisions.
With this mandate, we should obey it, even if we disagree with it, but we don’t have to stop there. There are many legal avenues to explore while we still submit to our authority. If a husband does something foolish, a wife can submit but still appeal to the Lord, and God can do a better job fixing the husband than the wife can. God can fight our battles; we can trust Him.
The One We Are Truly Submitting To
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:6-8
Where does this end up at? It begins with God, it ends with God, and God is the goal. How I respond to authority is how I respond to the one who established authority. When people have a problem with authority, it is because they have a problem with God’s authority over their life. I submit to authority even if they are wrong and stupid as long as what they are asking me to do is not illegal, immoral, or unbiblical. It is not that I trust authority, but I can trust my God, who is in charge of authority.
God has provided great victories and answers to prayers this year. I honestly believe we are on the cusp of a great movement of revival at our church. For those promises God provided in His word to be fulfilled, God has graciously allowed us to prove our trust and submission to Him by providing an opportunity to test our hearts with a mandate that many might not agree with. If you have no problems with this mandate, then praise the Lord, you will get another chance to submit to something you don’t agree with very soon!