I keep hearing and reading church leadership make the statement, “Your health and safety is our top priority.”
Can I just say that makes me want to vomit?
It does. It’s gross.
I understand taking precautions. I understand wanting to be cautious and mindful of risk. I also understand, by God’s grace, what I read in the Scriptures regarding worship of God, fear, and the gathering of the body of Christ.
And this digital church thing isn’t cutting it.
If you think you’re being extra moral, extra virtuous, and extra holy by holeing up in your house to watch sermons in your pjs, I think we’ve come to a detrimental place of prioritizing our own comfort and placating our anxiety, because it’s easier to be scared and stressed than to trust God.
The Church’s top priority is and has always been to glorify God. Period. The church under Nero was encouraged to continue meeting and to endure persecution under threat of death! Why should we think our health and safety is any more valuable than theirs? Why should we think God expects anything less of us in our circumstances? At this point, many churches are CHOOSING to remain shuttered. How do we glorify God? How can we do that with the freedoms and liberties with which He’s blessed us? Within the confines of “social distancing protocols”?
When you meet together, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as you praise the Lord with all your heart. Ephesians 5:19, CEV
Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Isaiah 45:20, ESV
Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer. Hebrews 10:25, CEV
Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9, CSB
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it. Matthew 16:25, CSB
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20
Do we have to be gathered in droves for the Holy Spirit to be present with us? No. We could all start having little home churches. But it is less a question of whether we should or shouldn’t and more an issue of will we or won’t we.
Since quarrantine, I’ve noticed views for videos of Bible teaching and preachimg steadily decline. At first we seemed willing to soak up every last bit of Gospel we could and to hold on to that message and persist in our prayers and Bible study. It was important to us, because we were scared. But Church, I think we’ve grown weary. I think we’ve become stressed. I think we’ve allowed ourselves to let other things take the place of the hour or 2 we may have spent in worship due to the fact that we are at home where distractions are prevalent and reasons (or excuses) abound.
We could stay away from our church buildings longer… Say we’re the “scattered underground church”. But personally I find that incredibly obtuse and offensive to the brothers and sisters who are meeting in secret under penalty of death, or walking miles for days in inclimate weather to have the chance to hear the Gospel and sing hymns of worship, or facing ostracism from family for their faith in Christ Jesus, or simply longing to hold a copy of the Holy Bible in their native tongue…
America, this is sad. And I’m frankly disappointed. Do not let your zeal for the Lord be quashed by the duration of the shut down. The viral curve is as flat as it is going to be until there is a vaccine… Which is a topic for another post.
We are the body and bride of Christ. And there is nothing more important than gathering for worship to glorify God, sing HIS praise, and to encourage one another in the faith. What this has shown me is how few healthy people are actually willing to risk their lives for religious freedom to assemble in worship. And how much we cling to health and safety. And how easy it is for us to become accustomed to internet church and forsake the relational aspect of our faith.
I get taking care of yourself. I get wanting to look out for the well-being of others. But are we doing so at the cost of our spiritual vitality? I think our priorities have been a tell as to where our hearts are. And we may need to do some investigative work and sincere prayer in order to get back to the place where we can all say like the Apostle Paul, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21, where we pick up our cross and follow Him regardless of the cost.
Church- if we TRULY believed that, we would lay down our comforts, fears, and uncertainties, and we would gather together, and we would worship our God and King as He has commanded us to do.