Is the Faithful Defeated?
Many Christians are hopeful that their faith alone will sustain them during the coronavirus pandemic. But why do the faithful feel the need to go to church in the midst of such a deadly pandemic? Is church worship about faith, worshiping God, or love of social life? In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic does God require us to praise Him in mass numbers? Can we revere God without large social gatherings? Should the church enforce social distancing Will the faith of the faithful prevail? I devote this blog to finding answers to these questions.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Novel Coronavirus Disease, COVID-19, a pandemic. On March 13, the United States declared it a national emergency. The first case of Coronavirus was confirmed on January 30. Since then, the virus has set off a firestorm of fear among people around the world.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it appears that this disease is shaking the faith of many of the faithful. Rather than helping put an end to Coronavirus, the church is playing a major role in spreading the pandemic. In spite of the virus, worshipers continue to gather in mass numbers. Across the U.S. the faithful are defying local government lockdowns, causing some people to question church leaders.
Social Distancing in Church Services During the Pandemic
Many churches are uniting in efforts to slow the spread of the Coronavirus by social distancing and ratifying stay-at-home orders. A number of churches are hosting online services, urging their members to worship online. Several church members attended Easter services online in their bedrobes. The government deemed liquor stores and bars essential services. However, the government did not consider the church essential. This prompted some of the faithful to think the government was violating their right to freely exercise their religion.
To add to the Coronavirus pandemic, the killing of George Floyd has fueled the Black Lives Matter Movement. In addition, several peaceful protests have turned into riots. Rioters looted businesses and burned churches. This further angered some church members. The government’s willingness to allow protests without social distancing while denying the church’s right to assemble also angered some pastors.
Thousands of protesters protest without social distancing. The Coronavirus pandemic has prompted the State of California to ban churches from having indoor services. The state limited church attendance to a maximum of 25% capacity of a minimum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. This further angered church followers.
The Truth Concerning Religious Assembly
After more than two thousand years, the church is still a mystery to some Christians. Why does the church remain a mystery? You would think everyone knows that Christians assemble to worship. Right? At least that is what we have heard. But does the Bible tell us this? Where does the Bible tell us that the purpose of the church is to worship? The Bible says believers should not forsake assembling together (Hebrews 10:25). However, the Bible does not tell us that the church should assemble to worship God. So what is the true purpose of the church?
Many believe the faithful congregate to worship and hear the word of God proclaimed. But, that is not the primary function of the assembly. The Bible says believers should assemble for the purpose of stirring up love and good works and to exhort one another.
“…let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another.”Hebrews 10:24-25
Why Churches Should Follow Public Health Recommendations During the Covid-19 Pandemic
We should seek God when trouble arises. However, the devil takes advantage of every opportunity to harm us in any way he can. I am of the opinion that we should take every precaution to avoid this sickness in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Advocates of church services argue that places of worship are a vital resource of strength and community bonding. Those in favor of holding regular services say they should be allowed to congregate. But critics say the Coronavirus has made it impossible to gather in large groups. They advise that we follow public health recommendations.
Churches that host jam-packed services have been linked to Covid-19 outbreaks. In July, more than 650 coronavirus cases were linked to nearly 40 churches in the U.S. In Oregon alone, more than 230 cases have been connected to an outbreak at the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in defiance of the state’s stay-at-home order.
Many churchgoers argue that they have a right to assemble, and I agree. However, I believe churches and protesters should follow government guidelines concerning Covid-19. Churchgoers who do not support the stay-at-home orders of their local government should read their Bible more often. The Book of Titus speaks of Godly living. It says we are to be subject to rulers and authorities. We are to be obedient, ready, and willing to do good. Never should we slander or abuse anyone. We are to be kind and gentle, showing courtesy toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2).
Love For the Faithful Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic
God sees believers as sheep in His flock. Church pastors are shepherds of God’s flock. The shepherd should love and protect the flock. To defiant shepherds, I ask, “Do you exhibit faith by exposing your sheep to the danger associated with Coronavirus? How are you showing unqualified consideration and courtesy toward others when you do not follow local government guidelines to social distance, or wear a facemask?”
If we go back to basics, we would not allow ourselves, nor our faith in God to be shaken. To become the unshakeable church that God ordained, we must reconsider the purpose of attaching ourselves to the church in the first place. In doing so, we will see that we need the prayers and motivation of others in the assembly as much as they need us. During the Coronavirus pandemic, we must allow God to protect our health by following the recommendations of those whom God has ordained to protect us. If you don’t have to go out, stay home. When away from home, always wear a facemask, and please, use social distancing.
Agree or disagree? I welcome your comments.