Yesterday I had my barber take almost all my beard off. The reason? The governor issued a mandate this week requiring Montanans to wear masks in public places. And it is impossible to keep a beard looking good while wearing a mask. So it’s gone. My wife says I look chinless. I don’t like the way I look. And I miss fidgeting with my chin-hairs. But this is one of those times when we have to make sacrifices.

Today as a pastor, I’m asking Connect Church to join me in complying with the governor’s masking order. This is one of those times when we have to make sacrifices. Up until now, we have made mask-wearing optional, and most Connectors gathering on Sundays have not worn masks. I’ve heard from many of you who are staying home because you don’t feel safe with so many people unmasked. I’m looking forward to seeing you again now that masks are required. It will be good to be together again.

At the same time, I’ve heard from many of you who say you will not wear a mask under any circumstance. That makes me very sad… because I believe we need each other. I need you! (And I hope you need me!) I understand that many of you have concerns about the health impacts of masking; many believe this mandate is government overreach; many of you believe that we’re being lied to about the severity of the virus. I get it. I get YOU. I’m frustrated too. I’m frustrated by all the conflicting information out there. But this is one of those times when we have to make sacrifices.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that we should just rubber-stamp everything the government decrees. The church must always stand for biblical truth. The church must always oppose sin and injustice. And I’m so proud that a bunch of Connectors have recently involved themselves in political action. I hope more and more of you will help shape the future of our country through the democratic process. But I pray that your convictions about masking won’t interfere with your engagement with your church family. 

 Listen. We cannot allow anger to divide us. I’ve been the target of lots of death-stares in recent weeks. The first time I wore a mask in public, people glared and avoided me like I was a leper. More recently I’ve been stared down when I forgot to grab a mask, and I committed the unpardonable sin of picking up a gallon of milk while unmasked. The hostility is real. And some of it is coming from people who bear the name of Christ. 

Paul said this: I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT). I know we’re not all going to have the same opinion about masking, but I’m praying we can choose harmony and unity over anger and division. The mandate to wear a mask is not a sin issue. Can I appeal to you, Connectors, to choose unity with your church family instead of letting a piece of fabric divide us? 

Today I’m asking all Connectors to wear masks at our Sunday gatherings. There ARE exceptions in the Governor’s order: Children under 5, people with medical conditions, and a few others. We will NOT be the mask police. If you can’t wear a mask, nobody will force you to wear one. But for most of us, this is one of those times when we have to make sacrifices.

This Sunday I will wear a mask over my very short beard—except when I’m teaching. I hate wearing it, and I hate my short beard. But for this season I will make this sacrifice in the name of harmony and unity. Please join me.