This current crisis has moved me to rethink the American ideal of individual freedoms. The cornerstone of American individualism and idealism is the concept of personal freedom. One who is free from any outside constraints and rules. You are free to live and let live as long as your freedoms do not interfere with other people’s freedoms.
One look at the news now you’d think we were on the verge of losing all our individual rights by tyrannical governments in our country.
What is troubling to me are Christians are falling for the hype and hysteria of this narrative. Some states have outlawed religious gatherings and services, even arresting and fining pastors who do not comply. Some believe we are actually being persecuted, that this coronavirus was invented in order to take away our rights as Christians.
Christians in this country have traded the love of our neighbor for individual rights. Our Constitution has now become our newest testament, our rights have become our false god.
Shocking and bold words, I know. I too have felt the sting of those words in my own conscience. But it is true. When you allow your individual rights to trump Jesus’ command to love our neighbor you’ve turned those rights into a god.
If you as a Christian choose to continue to assemble in this pandemic it is one of two reasons:
- You don’t believe the medical authorities that this virus is dangerous therefore you assemble with no fear of infection.
- Or, you believe the medical authorities are correct in their expertise but you will assemble anyways.
I expected to find more Christians who don’t believe the medical authorities. There are some out there that I’ve seen on social media. But this is not the majority. The ones that I have had a conversation with are the ones who believe the authorities but are going to assemble anyways.
The main reason they give is a personal choice. It is purely a matter of conviction. They see the rewards of assembling together outweigh the risk of contracting the virus. They would rather fight for their neighbor’s right to attend church than to reduce the risk of infection.
These are the rights that have become a god.
The problem with individualism and the Christian faith is the shift in responsibility. People are free to do as they choose as long as their choices, and the consequences of their choices do not harm others. Any consequences then become their problem, their own to solve. Within the individual freedom paradigm, they are left alone to their own individual problems.
They’ve made their own bed, let them lay in it.
This is not the faith we are called to. We are to submit one to another, lay down our rights for the sake of the other, and bear one another’s burdens.
When we look at other countries and watch how they have handled the pandemic shouldn’t we ask the question: How are other countries managing the outbreak better than America? Rich Stearns tweeted yesterday, “One of the reasons we have not managed this as well as Korea, Taiwan, etc. is that our American demand for individual freedom/rights is more important than the ‘greater good’. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is all about putting the welfare of others above your own.”
Christian, put away your foreign gods and turn towards Jesus who gave up his rights to love his neighbor.