Directives from the Top, the VERY Top
The coronavirus crisis is engulfing our city, state, and nation. On almost every level, unprecedented action is being taken to help us deal with this world-wide pandemic. My brothers and sisters we live in difficult and amazing times.
As citizens of New York City, New York State and the United States of America we are being asked to personally take this virus very seriously. The directives we are being given are what the Mayor, the Governor, the President and their teams think will keep us safest; “flatten the curve” of this virus, shorten its effect, and save lives.
We should do our best to obey the directives of the government authorities around us. As 1 Peter 2:13-15 reminds us: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. “
The only exception to this principle is when the commands of the authorities come in conflict with the laws of God. Peter himself tells us “We must obey God rather than men“ Acts 5:29. At times like these it is wise and good to remember that as proud as we may be of any earthly citizenship we have, we owe our ultimate allegiance to a Higher Power. Paul tells us that “…our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:20
So, above all else, we are citizens of Heaven – members of the kingdom of God. As such, we might do well to know and follow the directives given to us by our King, the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, His directives trump Trump’s, Cuomo’s, DeBlasio’s and anyone else’s for that matter.
There are two passages of Scripture that are very instructional in this matter. They are found in the gospel of Matthew which reveals Jesus to us as our King. Both passages are very familiar. Here is the first which we call “The Great Commandment”.
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40
The directives here are easy to spot aren’t they? We are to love God with all that we have and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Said differently, we need to be absolutely committed to God with all that we have. In addition, we are to be as committed to the well-being of our neighbor as we are to the well-being of ourselves. This is pretty strong stuff from King Jesus!! Our Lord goes on to tell us that the Law and the Prophets, most of the Old Testament, depend (tie together) on these two commandments. They are that important.
The other passage is found in the Sermon on the Mount. We know it as “The Golden Rule”. It states: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12
So if we wouldn’t want it done to us we shouldn’t do it to our neighbor, and vice versa. This time King Jesus adds that the reason for living this way is that “this is the Law and the Prophets”. It is that important. It’s almost an equation here. The Golden Rule = The Law and the Prophets. The 613 commandments of the Old Testament summed up in one simple statement. Only Jesus could pull that off.
These are difficult and amazing times. These times call for some very special measures. As those who claim to follow Christ, those who say that Jesus is their King, it is time to live like…..Christians. That requires that we follow the directives to:
- Love God with all we have
- Love our neighbor as ourselves
- Treat others as we would have them treat us
Everything we do and plan to do needs to be run through a grid that includes these three directives. It affects all matters from acquiring ventilators, to making sure the most vulnerable are protected to social distancing to how much toilet paper we hoard and everything else involved in this crisis. Living this way is so critical, especially now. We need to be Jesus to our world almost like we have never needed to be before.
The various government directives are very important, but without the words of Jesus they have no soul and are reduced to being pragmatic commands of a bureaucracy. The salt and light of society right now, the soul if you will, are to be the followers of Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:16).
Why should our world buy into Jesus’ directives if His people; His church, those who claim to be the citizens of His kingdom, have not yet done so. May the Lord give us the strength to walk our talk. We need, with His help, to practice the Great Commandment and the Golden Rule. They come from the top, the VERY top.
Pastor Dave Watson