Much of the sermon on Sunday focused on an odd sermon topic–the wearing of masks. But the rhetorical question I continued to ask on Sunday was this: When is a sermon about masks not really about masks? The answer: When it’s about God’s mandate to love–the guiding principle of golden rule, greatest command living. As Jesus followers, our motivation is never simply about what’s good, comfortable, or preferable for us. It’s really driven by our love of God and God’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s driven by God’s call to extend extra care towards those who need extra care. We remember this principle every time we talk about Jesus’ famous passage about “the least of these”–all the people who are more vulnerable and marginalized and need extra compassion. It’s at the heart of God’s call for justice and mercy for the poor, the widow or elderly, the orphan, the alien. Paul alludes to this in Romans 15. He has in mind in this passage those who are spiritually weak and vulnerable, but the principle applies to vulnerability of all kinds. “We, the ‘strong’ ones, should bear with the frailty of the ‘weak,’ and not to please (or just look out for) ourselves. Each one of us should please (look out for) our neighbor for his or her good, and to build them up” (Romans 15:1-2 KNT). I love that we live in a free country. I celebrate our freedoms and rights. It can be good and right to defend our individual rights. But I can’t help but think that love of freedom and individual rights-one of our greatest strengths–can at times be one of our greatest weaknesses when misapplied. For Jesus followers, our love of individual rights cannot be allowed to supersede God’s mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love and look out for the weak and vulnerable (see 1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23-24). Long after this pandemic is over, and some day it will be over, the need for masks will be just a peculiar historical footnote. We will move on to other things. But God’s mandate to love never ends.