After weeks of our Coronavirus sheltering in place President Trump announced the CDC will classify houses of worship as essential. While governors have allowed marijuana shops, liquor stores, and abortion clinics to remain open as essential services, our society is actually debating whether churches are essential.
The sad truth is that to many people in this country the church is not essential. One fitness minded person complained about churches opening when he wanted the gyms to open. There are many others who want churches to remain close fearing that worship gatherings will be super spreaders of COVID-19.
The sadder truth though is that the Church, the manager of the Gospel, is unessential to many Christians. The sheltering place is hurting our connection to one another. This sheltering in place, this cocooning, is cutting us off from the nurturing message of the Gospel. No greater example of this than pastors who are unable to visit the sick. This isolation is hurting us.
“You may say, I can read the bible at home.”
“Pastor, I watch your devotions on Facebook.”
All that is true and good.
But faith is a communal experience. We learn to be disciples by interaction with other disciples. This is the pattern that Jesus himself established. In fact, Christ gave himself on the cross for you to be joined to the family of God.
The suffering of Christ is more than simply helping us managing our sin, but to release us to be vessels of his amazing power, not for our self-actualization, but so we could be a blessing to others. Think of how Paul describes the fruits of our faith: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22–23) These fruits are to be used to bless the other disciples. Paul goes on to say we are to bear one another’s burden, encourage one another and build up one another.
Facebook emoji’s are nice, but will it help grow a person in faith?
We are in a historic time. A time which has ushered in significant challenges to really every institution in our society: governments, stores, employment, social media, families, sports, and health care.
The Church will be significantly affected by this. Your local church will be significantly affected by this. We will see this in the weeks and months to come.
We need to imagine how we will be in the Church together in new ways. We will need to imagine how we will be the Church for our friends and family in new ways.
We will each need to ask, Is Christ Essential to My Life?
Now may the Lord of peace himself give us peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with us all. (2 Thess 3:16) – Pastor Douglas