When Jesus was asked to summarise the Law he distilled it down to two commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind; the second command is to love your neighbour as yourself (cf Matt 22:34-40)
On Wednesday the Prime Minister of Australia announced some strict measures to combat the Covid19 spread and help flatten the curve (Edit: this post was written pre-weekend, on Sunday evening the PM announced further stricter measures). Flattening the curve has been the catch cry during this period – and is basically the hope of medical professionals that through good hygiene practices and ‘social distancing’ we will be able to keep the number of infections low enough that serious cases will not overload our already loaded medical facilities. If the curve is not flattened, if the number of infections is allowed to grow unchecked, then the number of serious infections will quickly overwhelm our systems and people will die who might not have – Italy being a particularly serious example of this.
The virus itself has so far clearly shown itself to be quite deadly for elderly generations and those with compromised immune systems, and it is not ‘just like the flu’. Given this information, and given the demographics of our church, we believe that as an act of loving our church members, doing good to the household of faith (cf Gal 6:10), and ultimately as an act of loving God, we would heed the government’s warnings on this matter and temporarily cancel our services.
So, it was a little disappointing to hear recently of someone breaking the government-mandated 14 self-isolation and brushing off concerns with, ‘I’m young…’ and ‘You should have more faith.’
Let me explain why this is not only naïve and foolish but also breaking the greatest commandment #2 and ultimately commandment #1: if you were to catch the virus then sure, being of young age would mean that you would have a high chance of survival – but what of those to whom you have passed it on during your contagious incubation period? What of the person three or four steps removed from you who has received the virus because you chose to ignore the warnings? That is not loving your neighbour as yourself. It is profoundly self-interested.
If I understand the interplay of the two great commands together, then the implication is that if you willingly choose to not love your neighbour, you are not truly loving God. The two are tied together. Christians who do not heed governmental authority in these matters (cf Romans 13) or your church leadership are not demonstrating faithfulness. They are demonstrating disobedience.
So let this be an exhortation for us all – let us care for each other in this season by heeding the warnings of our government, practising good hygiene and appropriate social distancing, and to do so not out of mere lip service but out of love for God and love for our neighbour.