By David Hegg
I get it. This season is unique but at times morphs into an unwanted normal. Sometimes I don’t know what day it is. Weekends seem like weekdays, and weekdays seem like weekends but neither feels right. Is anyone else running a prolonged low-grade emotional fever while unable to put your finger on the cause?
Every day I’m scanning the news for signs of improvement only to find two things to be true. First, I have no way of knowing what is actually true. Have you noticed that? Has it dawned on you that we have to believe a whole series of “go betweens,” all of whom have their own slant, bias, or agenda? And guess what? We’re all tempted to believe those who give us information that supports our own slant, bias, and agenda. And adding to the confusion is the fact that, while millions have the virus, and thousands are dying, I seem to be living in a nice safe bubble. I don’t know anyone who has died. I go to Target and Home Depot and the crowds are shockingly large, but I’m told I can’t have 10 of my friends in my house to share a beverage and study the Bible.
Second, according to my scorecard, the hopeful news and the “sky is falling” news refuse to interact with one another. Have you noticed? There seem to be two teams, each with their own scientists, politicians, clergy, celebrities, and a group of fanatical followers who have just enough information to make them talk like experts on the internet.
When I add the impossibility of knowing what is really true, to the constant drip of conflicting information, I end up feeling like the man in a round room hoping to find a corner. And that is infuriating, exhausting and prone to make me binge-watch Hallmark.
And now we’re all having to think about moving out of our bubbles, masks on, trying to forge another rhythm of life that is neither what it used to be, nor what we’ve adopted the last few months. It is new territory with unknowns around every corner that are sure to produce more questions, cause more arguments, and shine a more powerful light on the erosion of our freedoms that we’ve tried to ignore.
So, where do our ethics come into play? Here’s a couple suggestions about how I hope to make decisions and order my life going forward. First, I must take emotion out of my decision-making. This is not the time to act foolish because some talk show host insists I should help bring about another Boston Tea Party. If I’m going to join the civil disobedience crowd, it can’t be because I’m convinced some talking head is the newest reincarnation of Paul Revere.
Second, I’ve got to take selfishness out of the equation. Turns out I don’t live in a bubble. I live in a neighborhood, and a wonderful city. Like it or not, everything I do has an effect on others. Add to that the scary thought that my actions will influence others to act, and I must always be careful to model behavior I won’t later regret. When I act selfishly, without regard to those in my sphere of influence, I play the fool.
Lastly, I must put the whole of my ethical system into the equation. Turns out I’m not my own. Jesus rescued, redeemed and restored me and is working now to reform my life according to his own. Simply put, as a Christ-follower, I represent him, and how I act in this crazy season must be driven by my desire to live out his grace and truth.
So, here we go! We’re “reopening” life in hopes that we’re not reopening another round of death. It is a scary time, and scary times call for sharp thinking, rational behavior, and love of neighbor. Be careful out there, and until we know for sure what we hope to know for sure, and have a proven defense against the virus, can we all just love each other enough to err on the side of caution? Besides, haven’t we actually enjoyed being home with those we love just a bit more? I have.
Now, please pass me the Cheetos and the remote.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.