It was inevitable that this issue of Current would be dominated by Covid-19. Such has been the impact that most of us have had to view life through a virus-tainted lens. I have no delusions of grandeur regarding the import of this publication, but if the Lord tarries and there is some future pandemic, I do wonder if people will look to this issue to help determine how the Free Presbyterian Church responded to coronavirus in 2020. If so, they will find Mrs. Brown’s summary helpful as well as Rev. Boyle’s insights from Mexico. I trust future readers will also sense that our hearts were beating for the glory of God in the midst of all the uncertainty.
Our writers have fought the fight of faith and have expressed the godly responses of submission and fortitude to the challenges we faced. Yet a fair account of the recent history must include the multiplicity of opinions that swirled around in our churches. We are confronted with the place of modern medicine in the living out of ancient faith. We are also wrestling with the interaction of church and state. Then there is the age-old battle of working out what constituted our responsibility and what was tantamount to unbelief. Listening to many, I still keep hearing the fatigue that people have felt as they have tried to make decisions in church, home, and family.
Given such an experience, it has been a good time to consider a reality that recurs in church life–true believers don’t always agree! Through the virus- lens, people united in Christ see things differently. How are we to enjoy genuine, Spirit-produced unity? Not by requiring uniformity of thought in areas of conscientious difference. Paul acknowledged that two parties might differ, and both act as unto the Lord (Romans 14:6). Nor is unity produced by denying truth. There are times when we must separate for the sake of the honor of Christ. The church ought to stand firm for religious freedom and pray for civil leaders to act with integrity. Those who follow Christ will love their neighbor with compassion while fearing God not man. I am persuaded that the vast majority of our people are in agreement as to these principles and yet they have differed as to certain particular applications. For the sake of historical accuracy, we note that the decision to suspend public worship was not without controversy. Even now we are thinking over the controversies about certain measures that have been recommended or even mandated.
In such a climate, may the Free Presbyterian Church be marked by unity and not the polarization that characterizes the world. Paul exhorts the believers to unity in Philippians 2. That unity is grounded upon a shared experience of grace (v1). Unity thrives in the atmosphere of humility (vs3-4) and humility epitomizes the mind of Christ (v5).
Coronavirus may have blurred our vision on current issues, making it less than 20-20, but it must not blur our vision of Christ. Keeping a clear sight of our Christ, who humbled Himself in sacrifice for others and obedience to God, will be the ultimate means of preserving Christian unity. Christ selflessly humbled Himself for me, but also for the brother with whom I differ. Therefore, as Christ put my brother before Himself, so I must be willing to sacrificially love as Christ loved. It is a testimony of grace that the church loves and worships as one body when the world around us tears and devours one another.
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).