“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15
Our friend, Arnold, who is newly born again at the age of eighty-one, is in the hospital with influenza A, which, for the rest of us, is basically the common flu. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for someone in Arnold’s condition, it is. For Arnold, the common flu could be deadly. He’s been in intensive care now for two days. We may have to start wearing surgical masks around him; not for our sakes, but for his. We would be protecting him from us. We could have a touch of the flu and hardly know it but still pass the germs on to Arnold.
I hate that, though. I don’t like seeing people walking around in public wearing surgical masks. I always assume they are paranoid and that they are afraid of catching something from me. It also makes me feel like they don’t want to be around me. They are obviously isolating themselves from contact and communication unless they absolutely have to engage.
Christians who walk around culturally wearing invisible surgical masks lest they become contaminated by the world should be aware that their concern over being influenced by unbelievers will undoubtedly come off as a sort of unspoken judgment on them. We may not have a mask on, but body language and subtle innuendo can say a lot. In this setting, we also convey fear of contamination — none of which is compatible with the gospel message.
Jesus prayed in His red letter prayer (John 17) that He didn’t want His Father to remove us from the world but to protect us from the evil one. That would mean Christ is praying for our protection and God is handling it, so it need not be a concern to us. We can engage in the world around us for the sake of building relationships with unbelievers and rest assured that we are being protected. And should any danger befall us, we will know that it was part of God’s plan for what He wants to accomplish through our lives in His perfect way.
So go into the world unmasked with an open heart and an open mind. Have no fear. Jesus is praying for you and God is with you.