"I am not afraid. This virus isn't going to kill me."
Yes, perfect love casts our all fear. But does perfect love put lives in danger? My friend gave me this example of the pandemic: "If I gave you 100 skittles and said to you that only 1 is poisoned, would you eat any of them?" The answer is usually, "no." Why? Because nobody wants a 1% chance they are going to die from a CHOICE they make. The reality is we are in a similar situation now - even if only 1% (we are actually right above 3%) of the population dies, why do we get to choose who eats the skittles? When we arrogantly continue gathering in large groups and not respecting our governing authorities requests, we are forcing those around us to eat the skittles - whether they want to or not.
The New York Times put out an article about COVID-19 with the subtitle: "Why are we okay with old people dying?"
No really, WHY ARE WE OKAY WITH OLD PEOPLE DYING?
Last week I wrote the article "Should COVID-19 cancel Sunday Service?" In said article I made the emphasis about focusing on your church, your Pastor's wishes and also your purpose in this season. Ultimately, you will always find I am asking people to check their own heart before looking at their brothers and sisters in Christ with judgmental eyes. I also wanted to write to the fact that just because someone has faith in Christ for a healing or that they won't get sick, why walk so arrogantly and force others (young believers in Christ or those with 'little faith') into your trap. Christ says it is by our faith that we are healed. So, even if you believe in God for a healing - does your cousin? does your sister? does your spouse? does your grandma? Why be a carrier of this disease and spread it to people you love? Have faith for a healing, but don't test God and walk so arrogantly.
Today, I feel strongly that God is in fact asking churches to not gather at their typical Sunday morning building. Some of you may read this thinking, "well duh, I've been saying that for weeks." While others are likely thinking, "fear has taken hold of this man's soul." Both are unfair assumptions. The reality is this COVID-19 pandemic is only getting worse. Have you considered what the typical person is going through right now? (beyond yourself)
Here are some things I have heard/seen happening due to COVID-19:
- Businesses shutting down
- Economic regression
- People out of work
- People unable to pay their bills
- People unable to have their weddings, funerals and/or many other important life events
- People's loved ones passing away
- Panic, stress, worry, anxiety, depression and the like are penetrating people's lives
If we continue meeting and/or gathering in large groups, here is the message you are conveying to the world:
- We don't care your business is being forced to close, we're not because we're a religion
- We don't care about economic regression, because God will provide
- We don't care you are out of work right now
- We don't care you are unable to pay your bills, we can
- We don't care that you wedding or funeral was cancelled/postponed
- We don't care that people are dying
- We don't care that you have panic, stress, etc. because we have Jesus who gives us peace
Ephesians 5:15-17, "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." [NASB]
1 Corinthians 7:17, "Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him." [ESV]
Colossians 4:5-6, "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." [NASB]
I absolutely believe God is trying to accomplish a few amazing things in this season. Please, prayerfully consider these things that I believe God is doing in the church:
- Remind us that He is God (and He is good)
- Remove the idolatry of the "American Dream"
- Bring us back to the 'basics' of life
- Remove the "megachurch" mentality (only gatherings of 10 are permitted right now)
- Which means, bring us closer to the original church (Acts)
- Family reset: more time with family and children
- Make us more available for Him: prayer, study and reading, accomplishing His will
- Get us back on track with His will (some of us have drifted away from His desire for us)
- Evangelize in our neighborhoods: the rise of all Christians evangelizing
- Bring back His Prodigals
- House church (type) of meetings: Family Bible studies, worship and prayer nights, etc.
- Become a resounding presence on Social Media
- Increase our (His) reach: God is casting a LARGER net via the internet
- Open the door for new believers
- Manifest His majesty and love through the internet: use the internet for HIS glory
- Help the Church (body) become a functioning body: every single person has a purpose
I want to expand on a few of these, that I feel even more strongly about:
Remove the "megachurch" mentality
- The early church traveled, they met in homes, they met in public spaces, and sure - eventually, they met in common areas that we now deem as "church." But we know church is ekklesia in Greek and means assembly or gathering. I believe in community churches (note church of Ephesus, church of Philippi, church of Corinth, etc.) but I also believe in smaller assemblies. I believe God is trying to remind His people that they are not called to be pew warmers at a church. And also remind Pastors/Leaders that they need to have intentional discipleship for each new convert or baby Christian within their church. We (as the body of Christ) are called to submit to our leaders (Heb. 13:17). This means if you are attending a church that you have no accountability or leadership over you, you are likely not growing. I will agree that some megachurches have structure in such a way, that every single person can have an immediate "pastor" over them. I believe some churches make it work. So when I reference the "megachurch" mentality, I am addressing the people (and leaders) who are negating the seriousness of God's will to have intentional discipleship for each and every new convert.
Family Reset: More time with Family and Children
- The Prayer Leader at my church posted/shared something: "QUESTION to all parents who have been upset about the Bible being taken out of schools: Now that you're the teacher is the Bible being read? Just asking." Clearly, it is a shot to those who are perhaps being a bit hypocritical. But it rings true to me. Parents, families, even kids - now is the time to ensure your relationships are strong, but your pursuit of God is stronger. Let's make the most of this time and pursue knowing God's word. Let's have prayer nights. Let's have worship nights. No more going out to eat. No more going to the theatre. No more bowling. Let's go for a hike and at the top, we will pray for our city. Can we commit to this new lifestyle?
Evangelize in our Neighborhoods: the rise of all Christians envangelizing
- The world (for the most part) is scared. While us Christians have a choice: fear or faith. As we have previously discussed, faith is not a right to arrogantly negate wisdom and love for others. Faith is the opportunity to have peace, joy and a sound mind in the midst of this pandemic. Faith is the ability to witness freely. Faith is the ability to share your toilet paper, to share your food, and to share your home. Faith is the ability to share the love of Christ to those who are afraid, anxious, or without. Be Christ in these times. Every single person. Do not say to yourself, "I am just not called to evangelize." Because that is a lie, Christ left us with a commission.
3-in-1: Bring back His Prodigals, Open the door for New Believers, Casting a Larger Net
- Quickly would like to point out these are all similar in nature. God is opening minds, eyes, and hearts to the Gospel like never before. People are asking, 'is it the end?' and prodigals are wondering if it is safe to stay away from the Lord. God is calling the lost like never before. The ground is fertile for seed (Matt. 13:1-23).
Manifest His Majesty and Love through the Internet: Use social media for His GLORY
- This is perhaps the thing I feel strongest about. Why would God not use the biggest uptick of this new generation? I was recently sharing with someone how 'scary' technology is. The point being: for thousands of years, we have not had the internet/cell phones/smartest device known to man in our own pocket. Now, in the course of 20 years, we have taken it from a strange, slow, technology to a fast-acting, data-tracking, world's-smartest-item that fits easily within our hand. The rise of technology: cells phones, internet, Google, etc. have made it possible to be in constant connection with anyone from anywhere at any time. We could conference Skype people from all around the world. I could talk to every President/King/Ruler in the world at the same time. Technology has often been accused of making your daily person 'dumber' and more 'dependent' on the phone in their pocket. Which is true! But, 30 years ago if you asked a banker to fix a light switch in their home, they'd be lost! Now, you can YouTube anything and anyone can do anything if they truly desire (with some obvious items like you cannot just 'be a doctor'). Now, I believe God wants to FLOOD the internet and Social Media with His TRUTH, LOVE, and MAJESTY. Due to social distancing, we have more churches, more pastors, more 'every-day' Christians than ever, spreading God's word on the internet. The fastest, most intelligent form of communication in the entire history of the world. Used for terrible things: consumerism, egocentric media, pornography, taboo searches, and innumerable SINFUL things - God is now shouting, "FOR MY GLORY!" If you have had a burden to blog: start. If you have had a burden to podcast: start. If you have had a burden to do LIVE devotionals or Bible sessions on your page: start. Now is the time to flood everyone's feed with God's truth and love. Do not be ashamed.
All of these things just to return to the point I made last week: What is your purpose during this time? What is God wanting to accomplish through you? Have you sought the Lord about His bigger plan in all of this?
Christians, it is time to stay home.
Think on it.