It is no suprise to anyone to hear that 2020 has been an incredibly rough year. From wildfires in the eastern States and Australia to fires on the streets of Minneapolis, from murder hornets to devastating hurricanes… and throughout all of it we have had a global health crisis caused by the novel corona virus SARS-CoV-2 and the resultant disease from contracting the virus, COVID-19.
As we have journeyed through this year, one of the hardest parts I have found is that because I have never lived through anything like this I don’t have the language to discuss everything that is happening with other people. This is something I hope we can change, at least for inside our church .
This past Sunday, 9/20/2020, for the “Grafted Story” during the service, I proposed some language that we could use to understand and discuss each other’s reaction to COVID-19. I had a ton of help from both Grafites and my church planting coach, Steve Treichler. I want to make sure that this information was available for everyone who happened to miss the service! It all starts with this graphic:
I proposed that we use these 5 different responses to help us talk about how we and others are responding to COVID-19.
The CARELESS person is one who thinks that there is no pandemic, it is all made up by the government to control us, and that people who are responding in any way other than to go about their daily lives as they normally would are sheeple, evil, and perhaps under demonic control.
The CHILL person sees the pandemic and the emotional pain this year has caused many, and responds to the overarching problems with only minimal changes to their daily routine. This person is willing to put a mask on when they go in a store or around those who have asked them to do so, but if it were up to them, they would just meet outside, 6 feet apart if possible, and forego the face coverings.
The CONSCIOUS person sees the pandemic and the emotional pain this year has caused many, and is attempting their best to live in a difficult balance required by the tension between the desire to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the human need for social interaction. This person will still meet with folks, but will want everyone to be wearing masks, keep strict 6 feet between people, and will most likely not eat food in the presence of those who are not from their household.
The CAUTIOUS person sees the pandemic and the emotional pain this year has caused many, and responds, out of love for others, primarily by trying to save as many lives as possible from the effects that COVID-19 can have on the human body. This person will want as many meetings as possible to take place over a phone call or zoom and will seek to find social interaction in an online format as much as possible.
The CAUSTIC person has changed their life the most because of COVID-19. They may be interacting with the world much like the CAUTIOUS person, but the trait that sets them apart is the way they think about everyone else. The CAUSTIC person thinks that everyone who is doing anything other than remaining in quarantine until COVID-19 has been defeated hates humanity, is evil, and they hope that THAT person ends up on a respirator close to death because of their ignorance.
As we think about these 5 responses, I want us to see a couple of differnt things. First, these responses are on a scale (1-5) instead of being binary (on or off). People are all over the map in response to this unprecedented in our lifetime global event. Human nature is often much more nuanced than falling along a strict dividing line between right and wrong. (As a bonus: I think I have identified as all 5 of these since March! <sigh> Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org to hear about my journey and you can tell me yours.)
Second, these pictures depict each person from CARELESS to CAUSTIC as the same photo. This is because no matter where a person fall on this scale, they are still a sinner in need of mercy and forgiveness from God and from us. Underneath our skin and opinions we all are skeletons that look very similar! No matter a person’s response, our job as followers of Jesus is to extend extravagant love, like the kind shown to us while we were still enemies of God.
Thirdly, the 2 ends of this scale have a different background color from the middle three. The purely CARELESS and the purely CAUSTIC person demonizes and objectifies people who are not like them. This is not a response that should be present in the Kingdom of God. Those who are not like us are the very people that Jesus told us are our neighbors, people followers of Jesus are commanded to love.
This language of CARELESS, CHILL, CONSCIOUS, CAUTIOUS, and CAUSTIC is going to be important for us to have in our back pockets if we are going to figure out how to gather in communities, both large and small, as the COVID era continues forward.