The Covid-19 Virus is a dangerous and unprecedented time for us. Most of us have never experienced a world-wide pandemic and never had to consider the questions this is forcing us to ask.
During this time, be patient, loving, and gracious with everyone; especially your leaders. We’re all struggling with it and no matter what happens, remember that the Lord is watching. Remember that your actions during this time will either testify to your love for the Lord and others, opening a door for evangelism and bringing them to Jesus; or it will turn away a whole new generation of potential Christians.
I’ve been watching as my brothers and sisters are struggling with whether or not to meet at the building. To be honest the rhetoric on both sides is important and it reveals a lot about our heart and faith. I’ve listened and read as the Lord’s people insist that they will meet at the building no matter the consequences. Each time saying something along these lines, “I would rather die with the faithful that be afraid to meet for worship” or “I have faith and I refuse to be afraid.”
What I don’t think is being considered here is paramount. I could die for my faith and walk into glory with a smile on my face, but I could not carry the burden of knowing that my decisions cost someone else their life. I don’t think I could carry that burden with me through this life or into the next. The thing that is not being considered here is that our actions will have an impact on the lives of other people and as such, we need to err on the side of valuing their lives more than my wants.
The truth is this current pandemic is not a matter of denying Jesus or your faith. Whether or not you meet at the building is not the end-all standard for being Christian. What you do need to consider here is the principle of “love for my neighbor.” Jesus said the greatest command was love for God and love for my neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). This forces us to consider whether or not our actions show love for our neighbors. The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 demands that we be willing to sacrifice for them.
Are we more concerned about following the rules than we are loving each other? According to the standard of Jesus’ love for us, we should be willing to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Yet, many are insisting that meeting to worship is far more important than sacrificing for the health and lives of those people Jesus died to save. The command of loving my neighbor as myself is about being as loving and concerned for each other as possible and taking the necessary precautions to protect their lives.
Another thing that hasn’t been emphasized enough during this time is that church is not a place or a building and gathering for worshipping our great Lord and Savior Jesus is not dependent on a specific place. The church is made up of believers who have committed their lives to Jesus and strive to live for Him each day. Anywhere that group decides to meet and worship is the church. It can be done online or in small groups of less than 10 people. The building is not the church. The early church did not have buildings and they did not meet in large groups. It was simply too dangerous. So, they met anywhere they could even in the catacombs.
Let’s agree that meeting and worshipping our Lord is one part of what it means to be Christians but it’s not the only part. Love and concern for others is also an important part of this. So, let’s take seriously our faith and let’s take seriously our need to love others. Whatever decision you make is within your own hands but ask this question, “Will your hands be clean if you cost others their life just to meet at the building?”