A few weeks ago, I read some headlines that bothered me and caused me to ponder their statements: “Coronavirus: can the government force churches to close?”…“Forced closing of House of Worship during Coronavirus”…“These churches refuse to close” and many more with similar impacts.
SO…let’s examine a headline that most news feeds will not print. GOD’S CHURCHES ARE NOT CLOSED…AND HIS HOME CHURCHES HAVE GROWN! The way we “do Church’ may look a little different as we have social distancing and isolation, but God is certainly bigger than a virus!!!!! And His church will prevail. Matthew 16:18… And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (the message translation says) a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.
What is church? First of all, it is not a building. The church is the people! The communion of saints…the total number of those who believe in Christ. The Holy Spirit gathers and preserves the church. God uses the church to accomplish His purpose for us. Matthew 28:19-20… Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Where is the church? The Holy Christian Church is found where the Gospel is taught, and sacraments administered. The local congregation gathers around Word and sacrament.
What did the early Christian church look like? Acts 2:42-47…They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
WOW…I love that picture! Did you notice it was not limited to one location or one activity? They met daily in homes and temple courts. They studied, had fellowship, shared with those in need, met together, ate. They praised God, enjoyed each other…and God blessed them with growth.
I started thinking about a church like Royal Redeemer prior to the coronavirus world. We met in the sanctuary or in the activity center for worship, had Bible study, fellowship, Life Groups, school, children’s ministries, food. We praised God and enjoyed each other. We also went off campus…home life groups, Bible studies, fellowship, visited the sick, shut ins, home communion recipients, nursing home visits, food distribution, and much more. We also feed thousands with Care and Share dinner, Food distribution days, Servant Saturdays. And the Lord blessed us with growth. We were called or commissioned the same as in the year 33ad “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
But what about church life today, in the midst of social distancing, stay in place, isolation. Is it true that the church is closed? NO! Is our commission any different? NO! We are still called to go and make disciples of all nations. YES! It just looks a little different for now.
- We still worship…we do it online for now!
- We still study God’s Word…reading the bible privately, online studies, online groups and devotionals like this one and Pastor Harris devotions.
- We still visit the sick, shut ins, hospital…but it’s typically with calls, skype, cards, and virtual hugs.
- We still gather but in smaller groups now, we gather in our homes…which are places of worship. We gather thru zoom meetings, neighbors sitting in the driveway 6 feet apart.
- We still feed many through the Food Pantry…. now serving 10 families a day, as well as 84 families on food distribution day.
- We still offer words of Hope to those that life has hit hard…words of encouragement to those questioning the future, Words of forgiveness for those feeling guilt, conversations with those wrestling with hurts, habits, and hang ups.
- And the Lord still blessed us.
So…what is your personal role in this coronavirus church season. For years I have used this:
CH_ _CH….what’s missing? The answer is “UR”!Well, I hope UR (you are) not missing from God’s church. The fact that you are reading this tells me you are connection with God and His Church….that’s great! Is your home a house that serves the Lord? Joshua 24:15….. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Are you worshiping as a family, doing bible study and devotions together, are you watching out for family, friends, and neighbors? Are you donating to churches, and to folks that you know are struggling, food pantries? Are you praying for those hit hard by the virus and it’s collateral damages? Are you looking for opportunities to share the Good News with someone who needs to know that God and His church are alive and well?