Around the country, thousands of faithful churches are doing the real work of ministry serving their communities, discipling their people and proclaiming the gospel of Christ. Faced with the challenge of COVID-19, these churches have persevered all while this faithfulness remains often unnoticed.
Since both Locke and Feucht are quick to cite their First Amendment rights, I’m going to use mine now to point out this distraction, to call Christians to a better way and implore the media to resist making them representative of the Christian faith. They are not.
The most concerning aspect of these sideshows has been the adoption of their “faith over fear” line among many Christians. The insinuation is that wearing masks, getting vaccinations and taking other precautions against the disease represents a spiritual deficiency, whereas true believers have confidence to trust God and so need not do any of that.
In this asinine interpretation of divine providence, it is hard not to think that faith has been reduced to a cosmic coin flip. Why draw the line with masks, just burn through stoplights and eat food off the bathroom floor. After all, faith over fear, right?
Yes, faith calls us to trust in the security of God. At this moment, many Christians around the globe encounter real persecution for the sake of the gospel. Moreover, there are times when Christians should oppose the government when there are legitimate threats to religious freedom. Pastor Mark Dever modeled this well last fall in opposing lockdown restrictions, earning his church not only a precedent-setting legal victory but the respect of other leaders.
In my office, one of my favorite possessions is a first-edition biography of David Brainerd, written by Jonathan Edwards. It tells the story of one of the best-known missionaries in North America. As a pastor who has commissioned many similar missionaries and is personally dedicated to reaching people in North America for Christ, I can tell you: The antics of Locke and Feucht are not helping — but the faithful work of countless churches and Christians who are sharing the love of Jesus in a pandemic is making a difference.
The question for pastors, church leaders and the entire Christian church is simple: Do we want to be known for love that reflects our savior or known for a sideshow demanding its rights?
You can’t scream at the world and reach the world at the same time. Showing Christ’s love for the good of our neighbors, even when it’s uncomfortable and sacrificial — that’s what it means to have faith over fear.
(Ed Stetzer is a professor and dean at Wheaton College. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)
This article originally appeared at Religion News Service.