It’s something we’ve all been looking forward to: a further easing of the restrictions that have made daily life often challenging in the midst of this Covid-19 crisis.
Now that we can meet in larger groups of up to 8, and church services can resume with bigger congregations of up to 250, there is a palpable sense of life returning to normal even as the battle against Covid-19 continues.
Phase 3 is very much welcome because with the economy and precious jobs at stake, we cannot afford to live with restrictions for too long, even though they have been necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Yet, I’m sure some of us may be wondering: Would the relaxation of restrictions also lead to a resurgence in infections? Would it encourage some people to be complacent, and forget that the risk of coronavirus spreading is still very real?
This is not just a difficult dilemma for policy-makers and leaders in companies and churches, but also for each one of us. Should we go ahead and meet our families and friends in larger groups? Should we go back to church every week? Should we resume some of the activities that we have held off for almost a year? Or should we continue to stay at home as much as possible, to reduce our risk of exposure?
This is not a question, I think, that can be answered easily. It depends on our individual needs and situation.
In some ways, this dilemma is like the one all of us face as followers of Christ.
As believers, we have been given great freedom resulting from God’s grace and justification. Our walk with God is not defined by a set of strict religious rules and long list of dos and don’ts, but by a loving relationship with Him.
But, as Paul warns us, we are not to abuse this freedom. Just because we can do certain things, he says, it doesn’t mean we should. As he points out in 1 Corinthians 10:23: “I have the right to do anything… but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.”
Instead, we are called to use our freedom wisely, and choose to do what is right and good.
That’s been a good reminder for me. But what strikes me even more is Paul’s related instruction in Galatians 5:13, where he says: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
How insightful! Apart from choosing to do what is holy (Romans 6:22), we are also to choose to do what is beneficial to others— “serve one another humbly in love”.
That, I think, is a good principle for me to keep in mind when making decisions on what to do in Phase 3. When there is no clear right and wrong, we have another guideline: Whether I stay in or go out, whether I meet someone or not, would be well guided by the question, “How am I serving someone else humbly in love?”
The other lesson that has struck me is that knowing that we have a freedom to choose—both in life and in Phase 3—gives me a greater impetus to be watchful. Because we have greater freedom, it can be easier to go wrong in simply doing what I want, even when it isn’t pleasing to God.
And so we are to watch—to watch out for temptations to do as we like, and watch our own behaviour. Titus 2:11–12 is a great reminder to keep drawing on the grace of God and strength of the Holy Spirit to control my thoughts, attitudes, and actions:
For the grace of God has appeared
that offers salvation to all people.
It teaches us to say “No”
to ungodliness and worldly passions,
and to live self-controlled,
upright and godly lives
in this present age.
May we make this reminder our personal prayer today:
Lord, thank You for Your grace.
Please teach me to say “no” to ungodliness
and help me to control my passions,
so that I will be upright and godly.
Help me live a life that is pleasing to You
as I humbly serve others in love.