It’s been nearly two years since the first Covid measures were implemented in the United States. Though it’s not over, it would be a mistake to fail to review the last two years and see if there are things we could have done better. As we’ve seen, there’s no lack of opinions about all things Covid. But, from this writer’s perspective, here are three ways we might act differently in the future.

We have to have a grasp of the hierarchy of commands.

I recently read an article in which the author argued, “we cannot wait any longer to do the work of the Lord.” We can reword that thesis as: “it was okay to stop doing the Lord’s work for almost two full years, but now that I have decided it’s been long enough, and we’ve remembered that viruses can’t be eradicated, we should get back to obeying.”

Where did we get the idea that we could look at Biblical commandments and ask “How risky is it?” and “How long can we stop doing this yet still be ok?”

This is a basic principle of hermeneutics: specific commandments outweigh the general. The Bible says “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25a). Add in all of the “one another” commands we can’t possibly fulfill through a Zoom screen, and you have some specifics we must follow.

Taking the heavily important yet general command to “Love your neighbor” and twisting it up like a balloon animal into the arbitrary principles some came up with is not a valid argument against the Bible’s explicitly-worded commands.

We must develop a robustly Biblical theology of death

Even with heaven awaiting us, death is not something we should rush towards. But neither should we just stop living in the face of risk, for we lose our humanity when we do so. The idea that we can wait for life to once again become safe enough for living is in direct disobedience to James 4:13-17. We “boast in our arrogance” when we assume we can control the future this way.

Consider how many people spent the last two years not receiving visitors, having no human contact, miserably wasting away in loneliness, only to die in solitude. Have we forgotten that the purpose of life is not to stay alive for as long as possible, but to actually live

Surrounded by the godless who have hope only in this life, we should not be surprised that the mildest threat of death pushes them into extreme risk avoidance. They know death comes for us all, but when there is no hope in death, it only makes sense to do everything possible to hold onto this life for as long as possible.

As Christians, the reality of death is not cause for panic. We of all people can accept this reality with gratitude. We long to “be clothed with our dwelling from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:2). For us, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We can make the most of every day here on earth knowing we are in Christ now and will be united with Him fully in death. The purpose of life isn’t to be alive, but to live.

We must reassert our commitment to unity

We tend to view those who disagree with us as either stupid or evil. Paul addressed this very tendency in Romans 14, describing the conflict between the strong (the so-called evil) and the weak (“the stupid”). The strong could look at the weak and ask “How do they not know?” The weak could look at the strong and say “How could they do such a thing?”

Paul’s exhortation to each: don’t worry about somebody else, just mind your own obedience. The strong must not push the weak to do that which violates the weak’s conscience. The weak must not force the strong to comply with the limitations of the weak’s conscience.

The tyranny of the weaker brother, which binds everybody to one’s own convictions, must be something we guard against if unity is to be preserved. “Everybody has to get a shot and wear a mask because I think they should” was not a valid application of Romans 14. Though less common, nor was the tyranny of the strong acceptable to God—“You can’t wear a mask in here or you’re living in fear.” God made it simple: “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (14:5b), and “let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (14:19). 

Hindsight is 20/20, they say, but even at that we can disagree what we see when we look back. Still, we would do ourselves a disservice to not look back and see what lessons could be learned and what was revealed about the ways we think. 

For more, listen to our podcast episode on this topic here, or see the clip below for a preview