We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself. - Romans 15:1-3 (NRSV)
Recently, a reporter interviewed people in a park who weren’t wearing masks as mandated. They offered different reasons for going maskless – some embarrassed (oops, forgot it), some medical (my asthma makes it hard to breathe), some scientific (an article said wearing masks outdoors can be harmful), and others defiant (it’s my body, no one can tell me what to do).
Defiance beat the rest, 3-1.
Now, this is a devotion, not an argument. It isn’t meant to tell you what to do about masks. It isn’t meant to judge your choices. It’s meant to prompt a reflection on scripture. And scripture says nothing about masks.
But scripture says a lot about freedom and how we’re meant to use it. It says a lot about refusing to believe I have a duty toward others, about not caring if I do. It says I pervert God’s intentions when I shape my existence around the conviction that I need please only myself, that no one but me has any say in my life or the way I live it.
We think of the Antichrist as a being who’ll appear at the end of time to engage a last cosmic struggle with Christ. But the struggle’s already engaged. The Antichrist is already here, contending against Love every day. It’s not some mythic being. It’s the fist-pumping conviction that nothing is as sacred or heroic or as worth defending as me, myself, and I.
Healer of our ills, cure in us the anti-Love that prides itself on owing nothing to anyone but me, myself, and I.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.