We hear and read a lot about guidelines for living as we continue to live amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone has guidelines about how to return to life: schools, businesses, sports, church, etc. These guidelines are offered as a way of living that will offer the best way forward while the COVID-19 virus is still around. The list of do’s and don’ts can be quite long and detailed.
In the days of Jesus, the Jews lived under strict guidelines. While most people are familiar with the Ten Commandments, Jews also followed over 600 laws and rules from what they could eat, wear, do on the Sabbath, etc. In the Gospels, Jesus was often challenged by the religious leaders on his understanding of the law and the commandments. In Matthew 22: 34-40 we read:
“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
For Jesus, the best way to live one’s life is by loving God and by loving others. If we focus our lives on loving God and loving those around us, then we will be truly following the way of our Lord. These commandments cannot be separated. That is, we cannot love God but then hate our neighbor. The apostle John would write in the letter that bears his name, (1 John 4:20) We don’t get to choose between the two.
Indeed, one of the best ways to see what a person’s relationship with God is like is to see how they treat others. Our words and actions toward others reveal our character as a person of faith. When we grounded in a relationship with God through Jesus, then there should be a natural flow of our relationship into the lives of others. Likewise, when we love others then we are demonstrating how much we love our Lord.
Well until there is a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 it is probably best to follow the guidelines. We don’t want to spread the virus if we can help it. And when it comes to living out our faith, we also want to follow our Lord’s guidelines, so that God’s contagious love can be shared with all people. One day the virus will be gone. God’s love, however, is eternal.