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BY REV. JEFF WELLS

July 22, 2020


Has this devotional grounded your resistance to Trump in Scripture and empowered you to act for the common good? If the answer is "yes," then please help us reach more progressive Christians. Become a Patron today.
(Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
“Mask up, America!” Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer exclaims in a New York Times op-ed today. Her powerful argument, alongside the news that Trump cynically called mask-wearing “patriotic,” highlight two opposing views of “freedom.” 
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. 

-Galatians 5:13-17 (The Message)
Up until yesterday, Donald Trump continued to dismiss the value of wearing face coverings to hinder the spread of COVID-19. For political cover, yesterday Trump declared it patriotic to wear a mask. But later the same day, he and his acolyte Lindsey Graham were seen at a crowded Trump hotel event maskless. They continue this behavior in spite of the fact that studies have shown masks reduce virus spread by about 70 percent. One study claimed that if 95 percent of the population wore masks (face coverings) in public, our collective action could save 40,000 lives. 

The refusal to wear face coverings in public is often presented as a matter of “personal freedom.” Yet this attitude toward life and the well-being of others is not disconnected from actions like citizens waving pistols at peaceful protesters, the administration sending camouflaged shock troops into Portland and Chicago, the accumulation of enormous fortunes at the expense of the majority of humanity, or even a cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck to kill him. 

God calls us into freedom, but there are two opposing views of freedom at work. One says, “I have the right to do whatever I choose, regardless of the consequences for others.” The other way of life says, “I want to act in a way that benefits my neighbors and the common good of all.” 

We can choose to employ our freedom for selfishness and destruction, or we can freely choose to love our neighbors as ourselves, as God desires. That is the only way we can all be truly free.
1. Mask up! 
2. Volunteer or contribute to an emergency food program. 
3. Find a way today and every day to give of yourself and your resources for others.
4. Support the movement to dismantle white supremacy. 
God of Love and Life, thank you for the gift of freedom. Guide our thoughts and actions so that we will choose self-giving love over selfishness, sharing over hoarding, and abundance over a mentality of scarcity. Teach and inspire us to freely and fully choose love and justice as we collectively strive for a world in which all humankind may flourish. Amen.
Rev. Jeff Wells is the lead pastor at The Church of the Village in New York City, a progressive, radically inclusive, and anti-racist congregation that seeks to undermine all forms of oppression and promote the affirmation and flourishing of every human person.
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