Our opinions about the Coronavirus and how to live wisely in light of it have the potential to cause division and conflict that can damage relationships and churches – and our witness. Even within a household, one’s opinions may differ sharply from another’s. Every new decision made by either church leaders or government officials can result in fresh conflict. For example, now that grades 7 and 12 are scheduled to go back to school on June 1, some parents will, understandably, not want to send their children back to school. (Out of love for their children, they don’t want them to get Covid-19). Other parents will, understandably, want to send their children back to school. (Out of love for their children, they want them to continue to get educated). It’s important to recognize that these disputable matters or opinions are exactly that – opinions. They’re disputable. That’s not to say that we can’t have strongly held opinions, but we need to be careful not to judge fellow believers about their opinions. Romans 14:1-12 is instructive on how to handle this.
In the church in Rome, which was comprised of Jewish and Gentile believers, some – Jewish believers — only ate vegetables (14:2) while Gentile believers ate anything. The Jewish believer esteemed one day (the Sabbath?) better than others, while another person, a Gentile believer, esteems all days alike (Romans 14:5). Paul commands the Gentile believers not to despise their Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ and for the Jewish believers not to judge their Gentile brothers and sisters. Why? Because (14:3) God has welcomed each person through the gospel.
The gospel is not a disputable matter – it is the life-giving, power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16) for all who believe. Living under Jesus’ lordship, entails loving others (Romans 13:8) as we’ve been loved by God in Christ. Part of loving each other includes allowing room for difference of opinions on disputable matters, including the many opinions we may have about how to live wisely under the cloud of the Coronavirus. Let’s not elevate our opinions to the place of the Gospel. Let’s keep the Gospel the main thing — now and always. Jesus is the Christ, the promised King, who died on the cross in place of all who believe, and rose from the dead. Jesus is the Lord of life who will save all who trust in him from the coming judgment. So may we not judge each other about disputable matters. May we each live to honour the Lord (Romans 14:6) and welcome each other as Christ has welcomed us, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7).