My church doors are open.
It seems that whenever I tell another “Christian” that my church is still holding services (which is not yet illegal in my state), they look at me completely side-eyed.
Some have gone as far as to say that I am endangering them because I choose to meet with other Christians at church.
I constantly have to reiterate that those with compromised immune systems stay at home. Our medical workers are at home. Our church staff follows CDC guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting. Hand sanitizer is readily available and we maintain “social distancing.”
That still is not enough to stop my fellow “believers” from second guessing the wisdom in remaining open.
THE TYPICAL ARGUMENT
Me: Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Them: We can assemble online.
Me: Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Assembling is gathering together, and the best way to do that is in church.
Them: The church is not a building.
Me: And assembling is not virtual. Besides, 2 Timothy 1:7 reads, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Psalm 56:3-4).
If we have Faith, why should we fear this virus?
Them: Because it’s wise to take precautions.
Me: Sure. Leviticus 13 shows us that removing the sick from society for a time is wise, but there are no verses about staying out of church.
Them: The church is not a building though.
And the circular reasoning continues. When someone does offer a verse, it is often taken completely out of context. The argument often ends with a spirit of bitterness and it takes time to get back on the same page.
Here are some observations I have been making after having about a half dozen of these conversations.
- Many “Christians” (I use the scare quotes because it is not my job to assume that everyone who says they are “Christian” is actually saved) are giving in to the spirit of fear mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:7.
This spirit is not from God. If you are a Christian and you are afraid, you should reconnect with God’s word.
- Many “Christians” are more worried about what their state governors, medical experts, and/or Donald Trump has to say than what God has to say.
The word of God is the Final Authority on all matters – including civil government and pandemics. If you are a Christian and know more about Donald Trump’s comments about disinfectants than you do about relevant Bible verses, you should reconnect with God’s word.
- Many “Christians” are judging other “Christians” for following their convictions with regard to opening or closing churches.
I completely understand the argument for closing church. I know of some churches who are filled with elderly members who are most at risk. I know of some churches who are quite large and could not possibly “social distance,” even if they tried.
I also believe that attending or not attending services should be at the discretion of the individual member, not the staff.
Most importantly, I believe there is substantial Biblical (I already presented verses above) AND historical evidence to support keeping the doors open.
We have missionaries on the field who put their lives on the line every day to have underground (literally and figuratively) church services under penalty of death. They violate civil law and public policy to evangelize to the lost. Imagine not doing the same in a state where it is STILL not illegal during this pandemic.
If you are a Christian who would never refuse to break one of man’s laws for the fulfilment of God’s laws, you should reconnect with God’s word.
- Many “Christians” have forgotten that the goal of Christianity is to evangelize, not just listen to sermons.
One of the greatest tragedies under this lockdown is the loss of evangelism. One of the best tools in the Christian tool kit is inviting someone to church. When there is no church to go to, no church picnics, no concerts, no special singings, and no fellowship, it makes evangelism so much more difficult.
Not only are far fewer churches open, but there is virtually zero “door knocking” or street preaching going on.
We are also losing evangelism through social interactions. Another great tool in the kit is demonstrating Christianity in difficult situations. The way we handle public arguments, incorrect restaurant orders, traffic accidents, and all sorts of other situations is fantastic for spreading Christianity.
The world is looking at us right now as either scared and impotent for speaking of Faith while walking in fear, or as lunatics who are endangering everyone by holding services.
Many of us “Christians” are doing the same, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).
If you are a Christian who is more concerned about avoiding the Coronavirus than you are about the souls lost without evangelism, you should reconnect with God’s word.
- Many “Christians” are biblically illiterate. They appeal to graphs and news media rather than Bible verses. They appeal to emotion over the words of the Book. They appeal to their lords in government rather than the Lord of lords.
If you noticed in the mock debate above, you will see that I try to back my arguments up with Scripture. I also do my best to make sure that the verses I draw from are contextually accurate. The responses from others have been highly suspect.
Some use Leviticus 13 – though that passage CLEARLY indicates the removal of the sick from society, not the removal of society from the sick and healthy alike.
Some use Isaiah 26:20, which says, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” This lacks context.
Verse 19 says, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (emphasis mine).
This passage is written to the Israelites, not the church. It is a reference to the post-tribulation rapture (Matthew 24:31) in which the dead Israelites (including Isaiah) will be taken up. This is not the same as the Christian Rapture that occurs before the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4).
Verse 21 is a clear reference to the second advent of Jesus Christ.
Applying a passage about the post-tribulation Second Coming of Christ to the fear of churches during a pandemic is not even in the same dimension.
By far, the largest majority of “Christians” during this time cannot reference a single verse at all.
If you are a Christian whose arguments do not appeal to, and often contradict, Scripture, you should reconnect with God’s word.
TRUE FAITH OVER FEAR
I have already laid out several Scriptures to make my case.
The LORD does not want us to be afraid, but to trust in Him.
The LORD wants Christians to assemble together IN PERSON.
The LORD wants us to go into all the world and be fishers of men. One cannot catch a real fish through a digital device.
Most importantly, God wants us in His word.
Romans 10:13-17 says:
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. This is the basis for salvation.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? We all need to be preachers.
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! We must be SENT in order to preach – one cannot preach as effectively online.
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? Not all “Christians” right now are obeying the gospel.
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Bible is the pipeline to Faith.
If you are not reading the Bible during this “lockdown,” I suggest that you start immediately. Your Faith depends on it. The lost depend on Christians to be Faithful in sharing the Gospel.
If we are locked in our homes, we not leading people to the Lord by testimony and demonstration of Faith or through effective evangelism.
If the Avengers can assemble when times get though, the children of God should be able to go to church.
I do not fear the glares, stares, and uncomfortable conversations with my fellow “Christians.”
I do not fear the Coronavirus.
I do not fear the governments of this world.
I only fear the LORD, which is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and wisdom (Psalm 111:10).
I have the “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” that “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
I am at peace, because I put my Faith in the words of God and in the power of His might.