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Devotion to Christ While We Disagree about How to Respond to the COVID (or any other) Crisis.

Todd WagnerMay 24, 2020

In This Series (23)
Sunday, June 7 Watermark Fort Worth Service
Tyler BriggsJun 7, 2020Fort Worth
“Races” Don’t Reconcile, People Do: How to Love, Listen and Live like Christ
Todd WagnerJun 7, 2020
When Racial Tensions Rise, So Must The Church
Todd WagnerJun 1, 2020
Devotion to Christ While We Disagree about How to Respond to the COVID (or any other) Crisis.
Todd WagnerMay 24, 2020
Sober Minded Living That Leads to Sanctification: How We Make War Against Sin
Todd WagnerApr 26, 2020
A Message from the Elders on Membership, Connection, Care and Community Formation
Todd Wagner, Beau Fournet, David Leventhal, Brian BuchekApr 26, 2020
The Gift of Trials
Tyler BriggsApr 19, 2020
Easter, It's Impossible to Overreact
Todd WagnerApr 12, 2020
Good Friday | In the Waiting (Plano)
Jeff ParkerApr 10, 2020Plano
Good Friday 2020
David Leventhal, Blake HolmesApr 10, 2020
Announcements
Todd WagnerMar 21, 2020
Plagues, Censuses, and Leadership
Todd WagnerMar 15, 2020
Weekend Update
Todd WagnerMar 14, 2020
Leaders That Create Churches Others Are Thankful For: Plano Launch
Todd Wagner, Kyle Kaigler, Brian Buchek, David LeventhalMar 1, 2020Plano
Evening with the Elders
Todd Wagner, Beau Fournet, Brian Buchek, David LeventhalFeb 23, 2020
The Gospel Through Marriage
John McGeeFeb 16, 2020
Our Lens: The Gospel
Harrison RossFeb 16, 2020Plano
Biblical Authenticity
Drew ZeilerFeb 16, 2020Fort Worth
A Biblical View of Marriage
Connor BaxterFeb 16, 2020
Who We Are
Tyler BriggsFeb 9, 2020Fort Worth
The Richness of the Gospel
Jeff Parker, Grant MacQuilkanFeb 9, 2020Plano
Fort Worth Transition Update
Steve AbneyFeb 9, 2020Fort Worth
Experiencing Our Purpose in Christ
David MarvinFeb 9, 2020

In This Series (27)

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

How are you pursuing things that make for peace and the building up of one another? Always, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic? What can do you this next week to pursue peace and unity with someone else?

Summary

As the world continues to figure out how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, how should we, as Christians, respond? Todd Wagner teaches through Romans 12-14, reminding us that we are not just citizens of America but citizens of Christ, and that as citizens of Christ we are many individual members that make up one body.

Key Takeaways

  • Our government has made recommendations—not laws or requirements—as to what they think is best for how we respond to COVID-19.
  • As Christians, we are one body. Even though we are one body, we have individual members that make up our body. Your eye and your knee are both part of your body, but your eye responds a lot differently to saw dust than your knee does.
  • How are you doing at praying for each other during this season? (Romans 12:12)
  • When we get together with a large group of people it’s impossible to make accommodations for everyone…no decisions would ever get made. Leaders need to lead and make decisions…being as loving and gracious as they can as they try to serve as many people as they can.
  • All laws are moral judgments; therefore, whose laws should we legislate? How about the laws of a good, sovereign, and loving God?
  • Do you want to change the world? Draw a circle around yourself, change everything inside the circle, and then invite others in.
  • If there are people who want to gather without a mask, that’s OK. If there are people who don’t want to gather and want to wear a mask, that’s OK.
  • If folks feel the freedom to not violate any laws and to push through some recommendations, we need to allow them the freedom to do so.
  • Increasingly, there will be folks who feel and have the freedom to gather. As Christians, we can both celebrate those freedoms, as well as honor those who have concerns.

Mentioned or Recommended Resources

Well, good morning Watermark family. Just a second ago when I was here with Greg and the leaders from the Frisco campus, I failed to say to you, "Happy Memorial Day Weekend," and it is exactly that. I just want to very quickly tell you that too many times, this is a weekend that we treat like it's a three-day weekend where we can get together with friends and grill in the backyard or go to a lake or find some extra time to relax.

I just want to say that we have many members of Watermark who are Gold Star Families who have lost loved ones in service for our country and the freedoms which we hold so dear. We have members of Watermark who walk with a limp or who have had their physical body permanently compromised because of the way they've sought to serve us in providing for our freedoms.

We have people who are separated from one another right now because they're part of living for us. But Memorial Day is specifically a day that we don't just remember our veterans; we remember those who gave their life for us. So we are grateful to our humble brothers and sisters who have given their lives for us in service of our country.

Even as we pause to remember them, every week we should live to remember Christ. Every week, we should live in such a way that we look like our faithful brothers and sisters who have given their lives for our country. We should be people who are giving our lives every week in selflessness, self-denial, and self-death to live for the King who gave his life for us.

This is the good news. We have a sovereign King and leader who loved us with the greatest love that a man could have, that he would give his life for us. I want to remind any guest who is here and watching that we don't believe that we need to do anything to earn God's love. We gather to remember the love of Christ.

When we commune together over bread that we break and provision that we drink, we remember that his body was broken for us and his blood was shed that God could, in his justice, institute a new way of dealing with men. That we no longer are under the law and needing to fulfill the requirements of law by faith in order to be saved by grace through faith, but the final sacrifice has been made through the provision of Jesus Christ, who is our High Priest.

The eternal weight of our sin has been met by eternally perfect sacrifice to appease an eternally perfect God. We do everything to remember Jesus, and that ought to be something that people can look at us. They're as thankful for us in the way that we take up our cross and follow him as we are for men and women who have died to give our nation freedom.

Christ has made us free for something even better than being good citizens of America, but to be the best citizens on earth, because we are strangers and aliens on earth, and we don't operate the way other earthlings do because we are citizens of another kingdom: the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

What we want to do this week and felt like we need to do this week because we are inching toward, racing towards, increasingly getting ready to have a chance to gather in a way that's going to be a source of maybe confusion for some, a problem for some, and a time of great rejoicing for others.

So when I prayed for Greg, one of the things I prayed for him is right out of 1 Timothy, chapter 4, verse 13, which says, "…give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching." What I want to do today is something that our body needs, the church of Jesus Christ needs, and that is to see what God's Word would have for us in such a time as this.

So we are going to read Romans 12, 13, and 14, and I want to make some brief comments throughout that I think are instructive to us as we begin to consider how we should assemble together. This is a passage that talks about how to respond to the love of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us. Romans 1 through 11 is the amazing gift of salvation through Christ. Chapter 12 starts a section which says, "Therefore in light of the Jesus who died for you who you remember."

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God…" You now have the ability, through the freedom that he has provided for you. "…to present your bodies…" The way you live and conduct yourself. "…a living and holy sacrifice…which is your spiritual service of worship." It is the only right way to respond to a Jesus and a God who died for you, to say, "I want to live for you."

We don't want to be like the rest of the world. We're not going to be conformed to the world. But we will be changed and transformed by the renewing of our mind. It's why we're going to read Romans 12, 13, and 14. So that we can prove out, experience, be living examples of the will of God.

You're going to see that it is a good and acceptable, and even the perfect way for us to live as we are moving into increasingly a world where there's a fault line. All of us early on were trying to figure out, "What is the truth about COVID-19?" We're all victims of what scientists and epidemiologists and experts tell us about this awful disease.

I think, pretty collectively, we said, "We don't know." So wisdom and caution would have us not just charge ahead. I mean, Scripture says that, right? That the prudent see evil or danger and they are a little bit more careful, but the naïve proceed and they inherit all the folly that goes with acting without wisdom.

I think early on, there were, as information was presented a certain way, a lot of people who were like, "Okay, let's just at least take a pause and come back." Maybe some people from the very beginning didn't think that we should shelter completely in place or shut down world economies, but by and large, you saw the world say, "All right, we think this is maybe the right first step."

We looked back at the Spanish Flu and other pandemics and we used all the information we had and we did what we thought was right, but there's a fault line now, and America is really split. There are folks like, "It's about time we stop sheltering in place and we charge ahead." And others are like, "I'm not really ready to charge ahead. I'm a little bit burdened, and I'm still concerned about whether we should gather."

This is true, I know, in marriages and I know it's true in Community Groups, and my goodness, it's certainly true of the 20,000 people who make this a place where they either follow Jesus radically and are a part of the membership of the church or who are around Watermark on a regular basis in terms of its ministries and our leadership.

So what's the right solution for us? Some people, when they hear what I'm about to read in Romans 13 say, "Well, we should do whatever the government tells us." Some people are saying, "No, the government is overreaching and burdensome. Who are they to say that this business is essential and that business is not essential?"

We have a right, according to our Constitution, to freely exercise our religion, to peacefully assemble, and even under our Constitution to appropriately speak out to, at times, and resist laws that are not consistent with that Constitution. But we are not just citizens of America. We're citizens of Christ, and we remember him in all that we do.

So what I want to do is take you where I took our staff this week. Because as our staff has begun to meet now and gather and get back to work, not isolated in different places, but increasingly together, this is a passage I spent some time with them, and especially with folks who are a maybe little less likely to step out into the full throttle getting back after it of today.

So I want to spend some time with you, and I think and pray this will be helpful to you in your marriages, in your friendships, and as we begin to gather. Our government, as we'll read in Romans 13, has made recommendations. Some people think if the government recommends it, we should do it, and that's the end of it.

Our own government has said to us, "They're recommendations. It's not a law. It's not a requirement." But again, I want to talk to you about this. What do we do if one member of a family wants to follow the recommendation and another member of the family doesn't? Or what do we do if we listen to the scientists or certain scientists who testify?

Because what's really happening right now is there is a case being adjudicated before all of us. Each side is bringing forth expert witnesses. That's what happens in a trial where there are certain people who are brought forth to testify. "This is why you need to prosecute COVID by sheltering in place some more and not opening businesses and not having large assemblies." These are people who are saying, "This is why we shouldn't have ever completely sheltered in place, and certainly even if that made sense then, it's not now. We have more data."

How then should we live? Not as citizens of earth with this pandemic but as citizens of heaven on earth where there is a pandemic. Well, we shouldn't be like the world, but we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The way we love one another in our differences should be good and acceptable and perfect, not just to us, but in an observable way to the world.

There's more for us here. Let's read Romans 12:3-10 together. I'll make a few quick comments, and then we'll charge ahead even more. I think you're going to see a lot of revelation that will be helpful to you. So Romans 12, verse 3 says, "For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality [great generosity] ; he who leads, with diligence…" Or your Bible might say zeal. "…he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor…"

Now let me just talk about a few things here that I think are going to help you and help us as we begin to think through how we might gather. I'm so glad so many of you are already doing the things that I think we're going to look at and study and learn here in just a moment, but I will say that there's going to be even a bigger test when we decide to go, "Hey, we're going to open up 7540 LBJ."

Let's just be honest. If we're a church of 20, I think we have a lot less challenges. Over 80 percent of the churches in America have less than 200 people who attend that particular church. Our staff is bigger than that. I know the challenges that we've had as a staff as we've tried to apply this passage to one another as we begin to gather together, and that is nothing but mature believers. The 20,000 that I say are a regular part of Watermark… It's probably closer to 25,000, we think.

That 25,000 doesn't represent the believers at Watermark, and it certainly doesn't represent all the mature believers. There are still a lot of folks who are just new to the faith or have just embraced the faith. There are many others who are on their way to trusting in Christ and some who will go out from us having been here for a while because they're not of us. They're not even yet believers and may choose not to follow Christ with us. We'll continue to reach out to them and love them.

We're so glad that there are some regular attenders who are here that we pray God will give them the measure of faith that will lead to them being regular believers, which are members of a body using their gifts, practicing the "one-anothers" in a known way, devoting daily to Jesus, counseling biblically, and engaging missionally with us. So we call you to that if you're not already doing it, especially if you claim Christ. That's normal for a believer.

But a couple of quick observations here. In verse 3 of Romans 12, it said specifically that we should be individuals who don't think of ourselves more highly than we ought to. So I have a word for those of us who have a tendency to believe that we are the best at reading things, assessing things, and coming up with a conclusive source of direction for everybody.

Romans 12:3 says, "Be careful." God might've even given you a measure of faith that allows you to be a little less tepid or a little more bold, but that doesn't mean that you ought to be in any way insensitive to others who need to be encouraged and helped. It also means that you ought to be really careful before you are stating with absolute certainty certain things.

I have made that mistake in my life many times. I want to make sure that we don't make that mistake right here. We don't want to assume that the first article we read is true. We don't want to assume that, "I've read every article, and I've distilled it down, and I know what everybody ought to do." You might be right, but just be careful to not think more highly of yourself and your ability to read, not just broadly, but to read well and to make a decision right now that is absolute. Now I will to tell you one of the awful jobs of leaders is to make a decision.

I want to insert right here that one of the things that is very, very true is that as we show preference to one another in honor, we want to let people who are ready and willing to begin to gather, to gather, to let people who are willing to walk outside without masks to walk outside with one another without masks, to let people who don't feel a need to be anchored down or to greet each other from a distance to begin to warmly greet one another again and not look at them and think they're being irresponsible.

It makes sense that when we gather we give people who want to gather the freedom to gather, if it's not violating things we'll read in just a moment in Romans 13. And if we can, we can create spaces for folks who don't want to gather in that exact same way to gather in those ways. We have all kinds of challenges before us.

Let me just say this. We're one body. What we don't want to do is say, "Hey, folks who want to socially distance, you have to come this time, and folks who don't want to socially distance, you come this time." Because that's just not ultimately how a body acts. So look, we're one body, but we're individually members of a whole.

I will tell you in my body, I love my knee, I love my elbow, I love my feet. My knee and my elbow and my feet, they don't care much about sawdust. They'll wallow in it, play in it, run through it, do work that creates it. But I want to tell you something. I'm really grateful for my mouth and my eyes.

They're parts of my body, but they're individual parts, and I have to be thoughtful about sawdust when it comes to my eyes and my mouth. And not just go, "Get over it, mouth! It doesn't bother us knees or biceps. It doesn't bother our thighs! So why does it bother you?" Because the eye is a more sensitive part of the body, and I have a responsibility to it.

Now the eye shouldn't tell the knee everything it has to do, but the knee should be careful in what it imposes on the eye. There's instruction for us here. We are one body, yet individuals in that one body. Let me keep reading. Verse 11 says this. "…not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…" Not just my own preferences. "…rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer…"

How are you doing, church, in praying for one another? Instead of being disgusted at how people want to respond, are you praying for others and figuring out how you can love them in Jesus' name? We should be "…contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality." There are some folks who won't want to gather the way that we do and we have to be intentional about the way we want to serve others in their particular circumstance.

Here we go. Verse 14: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind…" "You're a scaredy-cat. You're arrogant and brash," are not words that should flow from the mouth of those who love our King.

"Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." One of the things we have to acknowledge is when you get together with a large group of people, we can't make accommodations for everybody because by the time everybody got what they wanted, we couldn't maybe do anything.

So if somebody says, "Unless everybody's individual needs and tastes are met, we can't live in peace," I will tell you that's not the correct interpretation of that particular text. Leaders have to lead and make decisions and be as loving and gracious as they can in serving as many people as they can. But as we're beginning to move back into times of being open, I will tell you it makes sense to let those who are ready to move back to move back, even while we serve and love our brothers who maybe aren't. Let's keep reading. It says,

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,' says the Lord. 'BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.'"

I'm not going to teach that text this morning and what that means, but just know this. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Now here are some verses that are applicable to our day and age. Chapter 13, verse 1: "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."

I will tell you in our country, they're established by the people, for the people. The government is of the people. There's not a proletariat. There's not an elite class of folks who have some birthright to rule over others. In our country, we say, "No." We want these men, these women to make our laws.

I think as believers, it's appropriate that we want people who are ruled by the love of God and by the morality of God. People would say, "Are you saying, Todd, that we should legislate morality?" I'm saying that all laws are moral judgments, so absolutely we should legislate morality. The question is, "Whose morality are we going to legislate?"

I'm going to vote for a benevolent, kind, sovereign King's laws. That's who I think I want to follow. So I'm always most curious about who rules my ruler. When people say, "Hey, I don't mind what you believe, I just don't want your beliefs to inform what you do." I'm like, "That's what beliefs do. It's why it matters what the faith is and the beliefs are and who the gods are of those who we put in positions of leadership."

One of the ways that God judges people is to let them have what they want. If people want what they want and they elect rulers who will do what they want? Then you're going to get what you get when you trust in men and not the blessing that comes when you trust in men and women who follow Jesus. We're seeing that right now. But watch.

"Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves." Now again, I don't believe resisting authority is done when you take advantage of what our authority said is a constitutionally sound reason to stand against certain behaviors that government is doing that you should rightly oppose.

Aren't we thankful for people during the civil rights movements who peacefully assembled and protested unjust laws? I am. The way they do it matters. Our government gave them a right to do it. Eventually, it got us back more toward right. Verse 3: "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same…"

That's our charge: do what is good. "…for it is a minister…" Meaning appropriate authorities are actually sometimes governments that are evil are used by God to accomplish his purposes to show people, "You don't want leaders who are evil, so get rid of them!" Government, good or bad, is a minister of God. It should be a minister "…of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for [government] is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil."

Again, evil governments call good evil and evil good. They will bring wrath on those who do good if they're evil. See the end of your bible. Before Jesus returns, there will be a world ruler who will call evil good and good evil, and that will not be a pretty day. "Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.

For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

For this, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,' and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'" That's how you remember your King. This is what Jesus says. _ "…love one another, even as I have loved you…By this all men will know that you are My disciples…"

"Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Someone might say, "You're doing wrong to me if when we're together, you make me live the way that you want." Now watch this. The person who wears the mask thinks the person who is not wearing the mask is doing wrong to them and the person who is being made to wear a mask because that person wants you to wear a mask can feel like they're having wrong done to them. There's some teaching coming up that will help you with this.

Verse 11: "Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep…" This basically, we've been in 1 Thessalonians, and this text is ripped right out of 1 Thessalonians. See if it sounds familiar to you. "…salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."

Now what I want to do is read Romans 14, because we'll just close with this. As I read Romans 14, I'm going to take away the phrase "eat meat sacrificed to idols" and I'm going to put in there other words that I think are applicable to our day. One of the things you want to do when you read the Bible is not go, "I am so glad Todd is saying that. I hope they're listening!"

Because the Bible isn't a weapon for you to make others listen. The Bible is here so that you might be transformed, that I might be transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I can live according to what is good and acceptable and perfect. It's always a problem when I read the Bible and I go, "I sure hope my wife read this today. I sure hope she does this today."

Obviously, I want all of us to do what the Bible says, but for all of us to do what the Bible says, I have to do what the Bible says. We say here all the time, "You want to change the world? Here's the way you do it. You draw a circle around yourself, you change everything inside the circle, and then you invite others in." Romans 14 is inviting us to love one another in this way. Then I'll tell you what I think might be some ways that we move ahead in the days ahead that might be helpful. Verse 1 of chapter 14:

"Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may [walk outside without social distancing or with wearing a mask, but the one who is not so sure would never go outside without a mask.] "The one who [wears whatever they want] is not to regard with contempt the one who [is not ready to go outside without a mask] , and the one who does [wear a mask] is not to judge the one who [goes outside without a mask] , for God has accepted him."

People who are timid about COVID-19 still and people who believe we don't need to be and we shouldn't be are both redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are members of one body, and yet individuals with different measures of faith, different sensitivities, but the same Savior.

"Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day…"

Now Paul moves from eating meat or eating vegetables only or eating meat sacrificed to idols or not eating meat sacrificed to idols to some people think you have to worship on Saturday, "Because that's what I used to do when I was following the Old Testament law on the Sabbath." Some people think, "No, I should not just make certain Sabbath days the days I worship God. In fact, I think the first day of the week is the right day to worship God and practice Sabbath, because that's the day Christ was resurrected."

Some would say, "Easter is a really special day," and others would go, "Every day should be like Easter." There's a little bit of truth in both. But watch. "He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself…"

If we live for Christ is what's implied there. "…and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." That's the point. When we die, we're going to be with the Lord, and as we live, it should be Christ. "For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." Praise God. That's why we grieve not as those who have no hope.

"But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, 'AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.' So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way."

If there are folks who want to meet together without masks, let them meet. If you are ready not to come out yet while people are gathering in that way and embracing and hugging one another, it's okay. It's okay. "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food [because of a mask, because of you thinking that, "Hey, you have to shelter in place"] …"

Listen, there are reasons that people are going to need to continue to be a little bit more cautious before we go back to warm embracing because they're caring for the elderly who are clearly more vulnerable to every disease, the normal flu, and we've certainly seen it's true of their susceptibility to COVID-19, to pneumonia, and to all kinds of sicknesses.

Twenty-five percent of all natural deaths happen to people who are in care facilities. There are all kinds of reasons that certain people, because of vulnerability that their children have or because they are caregiver for one another, that they may not be ready to assemble yet. But those who aren't in those positions can maybe move back a little further, a little faster.

"I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil…"

What I would say is when I go to meet with people who are still a little reticent, as I need to be with them, if I need to wear a mask for their sake, I'll put a mask on. But it's okay if others are like, "I think we need to begin to open and operate without masks," to let those people open and operate without masks. Watch.

"…for the kingdom of God is not [masked or not masked] , but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another." I'm not going to call you a person without faith if you're not ready to warmly gather and assemble.

There might be recommendations, and others go, "It's not reckless to not take a recommendation by a government that's acknowledging, 'We're not really sure what's right, but we look at the world that we're living in and we observe through now months of study in all the data we have that, "Hey, it might be okay for me to do this while it might not yet be okay for you."'" Watch.

"Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of [your preferences] ." He uses food here as an example. "All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense." In other words, if it's going to cause you a problem, it's okay. Don't do it. "It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles."

So when you're with other people who want you to wear a mask, for their sake, wear a mask. But if others want to assemble freely, let them assemble freely. "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin."

What should be from our Father is our desire to memorialize him in the way we work through this season together. I just want to share with you what we have done here amongst our staff as we have begun to work together and what has been determined from the beginning as an essential business. Early on, we did what government mandated we should do, which is to shelter in place, except for the provision they made for us to come and provide services like this for you.

But now, as we begin to gather 25 percent and 50 percent and as they say, "That's just a recommendation." As we begin to meet more freely and not violate law but maybe lean through and push through recommendations, we should let those who feel the freedom to eat and not eat all the vegetables, if you will, to use Scriptural allusions in Romans 14, to have to only eat vegetables, but to be free to eat some meat and to gather and to embrace and to be warm.

There can be allowances made for those who say, "That's going to make me uncomfortable, so I may want to not come just yet." Or maybe there will be some places where we can create where they can gather it away, and even those of us who are meeting more freely would choose to put on masks to do that.

But right now as it is, we have to sit with a family unit with six feet between family unit and a row between each of that. We don't want to get to a spot where… Right now, that's not a recommendation, but if it was the law, where we would think that it's time to take that on. But I close with this.

Increasingly, there are going to be some folks who are going to be free to gather and to not feel like they need to be socially distanced or be restricted in a way that they can communicate and approach one another. It makes sense that those folks would go out first and meet first. So we'll keep you posted.

We're going to honor our governing authorities. We're going to honor our King and remember him in all things, show preference to one another, love all men, and in every way be devoted to one another, maintain peace, and be gracious. We're going to celebrate certain people's freedoms and honor certain people's concerns. We will not think too highly of our own ability to figure it all out, but in subjection to one another in all things, seek the glory of Christ.

Would you pray for us as we navigate all those things? We're praying for you as you love one another. So reread Romans 12 through 14. Talk about it. We look forward to worshipping Jesus with you as we remember him in all things. As we close today, we're going to pitch you a new music video that I think you'll enjoy that you can share with friends. We're writing songs, singing songs, and may your life be a song to others.

We're so grateful for those who gave their lives that we might have these freedoms and we're so grateful that Christ died to set us free. I love you. I can't wait to be with you. If I need to wear a mask when I'm with certain ones of you in certain places, I can't wait to show preference to you in that.

But also thank you for letting some of us who are ready to be a little bit more free to practice those freedoms to the glory of Christ. Love you, Watermark. I'm glad you love Jesus. If we can help you grow in your relationship with him, would you let us know? Let me pray for you, and then you have a great week of worship.

Father, may our speech, our conduct, our love, our faith, and our purity be an example to not only all those who believe, but may people look at us and watch the way we show preference to one another in honor be a good and acceptable and even perfect way for man to live. We're going to need your help as we begin to provide opportunities for gathering, but how to do that in a way that blesses your people and brings glory to your name.

Would you direct our steps? Would you remind us to pray continually for one another? Will you help us, Lord, to only think highly of Christ and to seek to honor you in all things? Thank you for a chance to study your Word, to give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. Help us now to apply it to our lives in a way that will bring you glory and cause others to rejoice in your name. We love Jesus and are thankful for him this Memorial Day and every day as we celebrate our resurrected King. In his name we pray, amen.

Love you, Watermark. Have a great week of worship.