Last Friday, my state’s governor issued an Executive Order for all residents of Illinois to “shelter-in-place” due to the outbreak of Covid-19. This forced many businesses to temporarily close, thereby altering the lives of most people. Restaurants are all delivery or carry-out service only. Banks and pharmacies are primarily drive-through only now. Groups of more than ten people have been forbidden until this passes. And church buildings have been forced to close their doors for services as people are hunkering down in their homes.
As with most Illinoisans, Americans, and people throughout the world, I am adapting to this sudden change in our daily routines. While many have decided to panic and be anxious about the situation, I have instead renewed the mantra of “This too shall pass.” In fact, I believe the current circumstances might actually be a good thing on some levels.
Families who typically distance themselves from each other now find themselves in close proximity to each other with nowhere to go. As long as Netflix and Hulu doesn’t get in the way, I believe families can, and should, grow closer and stronger through this.
I also believe this is a wonderful opportunity for the church to be the church. Notice earlier I commented on how church buildings have been forced to close? I did not say churches have closed, because they haven’t. The church is not the building people attend. The true church is the group of believers who have surrendered to the Lordship of Christ and publicly professed Him as such (cf. Romans 10:9-10), thereby being gifted with eternal salvation. This group is also known throughout the New Testament as the Body of Christ.
Jesus Himself said,
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” – Matthew 18:20 NASB
In spite of this biblical truth, there is still some confusion on who the church is and what we are to do during this trying time.
In fact, I was disheartened as I drove through my town on Saturday. I passed a church on Main Street that had a very blunt, and biblically incorrect, message on its church sign. It simply said, “Worship is canceled.” Now, I know they meant the actual “worship service,” and I commend them for their plea for prayers of healing and health. However, I do find it incorrect to phrase it as they did.
Of course worship is in fact not canceled. Rather, we are free to worship whenever and wherever we are, be that at home, work, or in a church building. So, Covid-19 has not caused worship to be canceled no more than Postmodernism as caused God to be dead!
In fact, I am amazed at some of the technology we have at our disposal in today’s society. In spite of not being able to physically gather at my church building, yesterday’s service was still “live streamed” through their app. The musicians still played songs to usher in the presence of God, and my pastor still brought an inspired message of hope and applicability during this “pandemic” we find ourselves in. Ironically, it wasn’t too long ago he told our congregation he would preach the messages God gives him, even if the pews were empty. Perhaps this was prophetic when he said it, given that is exactly what he is doing now. Ok, I am being somewhat flippant, but it is kind of funny.
One point my pastor brought up in his message I want to discuss is it is probably a good thing the church is out of the church. As I have eluded to in previous posts, I believe most Christians are too comfortable sitting in their pews and playing it safe in the church buildings across America. Sadly, most never practice their faith outside the walls. Whether that means engaging communities in evangelism, serving those in need, visiting those in hospitals and prisons, or just being nice to others, it is time for us to do just those things. It is time for the church to be the church. Get beyond the walls and engage our world for the cause of Christ. He has commissioned us to do just that, and the world is looking for it. Now is the time!
You may be asking, what that means during this time of “sheltering-in-place?” While we are somewhat limited on what we can do now, we have been giving other opportunities now we don’t typically have.
While many people are expressing doubts, concerns, and anxieties, we can express the hope that we have. We can tailor our conversations, and social media posts, to encourage while being compassionate for each other.
While many people are hoarding daily supplies, we can be sharing with others. Just this morning, an ex-coworker of mine jokingly described this as the “Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020.” While that is funny, it is not too far from the truth. Nonetheless, we can buy only what we normally would so others would have what they need. Or, we can go beyond that and buy extra to take some to those who are at high risk of exposure.
These are just a few examples of what we can be doing during this time. I am sure you can come up with many more. And, if you ask God what He wants you to do, I am confident He will tell you. You may not like it, but He will reveal it to you.
So, remember, worship is not canceled. God is still God. This too shall pass.
Until we meet again.