In the 1st century Corinthian church the believers were irritated with each other over eating meat that had been offered to idols. The meat was heavily discounted and since idols have no real importance, why not? But other believers thought it was wrong to have anything to do with an idol sacrifice. To eat the meat was to partake in the idol’s feast. Christians accused the others of being unfaithful to God.
Rather than just discount meat, we have a beef about worship practices that could make someone we love sick. We know that with COVID-19 disease the elderly and the immune compromised are at greater risk. They could die. The risk for the average American is very low, but we could transmit it to someone is higher risk. This is more than simply idol barbeque.
I have read some Christians suggest that if people still meet, they are breaking the 5th commandment against killing. While I think this is extreme, I do believe we have an obligation to limit our exposure to this disease. Some members of our church are deciding to stay home to protect themselves or loved ones from the disease.
Some Christians are struggling with this crisis in other ways and desire the strength that comes from being in worship. They intend to follow safe practices. We trust that Christ is present with us where 2 or 3 gather in His name and rely on his presence in times like this. (Mt 18:20, Heb 10:23-25).
All of us are bumbling our way through this crisis. After this crisis ends – which we are all unsure when that will happen – we will need to come back together as a community in Christ. We will need to understand people had different perspectives on their faith. We all need to remember we are united in Christ as Concordia Lutheran Church, where we are “of one heart and mind in Christ” (Phil 2:2, 4:1).
Do not become a stumbling block to the weak. Neither of these approaches is weak. Each has merit. Paul said the measure of our actions was not how much knowledge we had, but our care for our brother and sister in Christ. Christ died for our fellow believer. They are of ultimate value because they have been purchased with the blood of Christ. We cannot out bid Jesus, so we better love and respect his children.
I can tell you that the leaders and myself are assessing the situation day by day. We are trying to minister to everyone in our congregation during this pandemic. We are considering what is safe and prudent to do as recommended by health officials while at the same time continuing to honor God above else.
Our one constant through all of this is the Lord.
“There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Cor 8:6)
I encourage you to take the time you have at home to read God’s word and to pray.
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 Jn 2)