And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
by Jon Reeverts
It’s been said that church will never be what it was and that the Christians need to move on and get over it. For months now, churches all over America have been denied inalienable rights provided for in our Constitution due to a” health crisis” that is equal to every other flu season we have encountered.
We have been silenced by governors who have said singing is dangerous, gathering is too risky and meeting in enclosed spaces will overwhelm ICU units.
Some churches have closed their doors permanently, others have seen their staff leave the ministry or had to let staff go. The most vulnerable of our society have often also been the most supportive, giving and faithful - they have been forced into hiding, chided for risking their own health and in some cases died alone, not even with a proper funeral to follow.
I’ve seen that pain, listened to families’ wounds from being excluded from their loved ones and listened to others, as many of those who remain question God, the “gutlessness” (their words, not mine) of the church and truth of what our founders guaranteed.
While church leaders and boards wrestle over the fate of their legal battles and the “hills they are willing to die on” they are discovering that hiding behind the hill to wait out “the crisis” has seemed to be the safest way to arrive at a new normal. In the meantime they are losing the committed Christian that bought into their messages, series, and music that had boasted of their God’s power, authority, provision and protection. Except now it feels a little more like a squeak.
Some new wave Christain moralists will proclaim that internet analytics suggest that they are reaching more people than ever - which might cause a new wave of ministers to order the video equipment and set up mega-churches from their basements. After all, who needs a venue… anybody need a building? But while analytics measure our web traffic and behavior, commitment, attendance (buy in) and giving to what deeply impacts our lives is a different animal.
There is a growing undercurrent of rebellion; a distaste for waffling and an impatience that “If you won’t lead as a church, we will follow someone who will - somebody needs to [grow a pair!]” Pretty sure I know a church who boldly did that series - should come in handy having that on file.
Ironically, our experience is that the most vulnerable, the lifer and sages who have weathered the storms over decades are not going to go out with a whimper under the threats of totalitarian mandates. They come through the front door, greet their neighbors, worship with no restraint and have discovered there is power in their God - as promised, through living joyfully on the edge til their last breath,
Imagine trying to take some of our old, and I mean old, hardened cowboys by the arm to convince them they should be "careful" with the few days, weeks or months they have left. You’re likely to walk away with fewer teeth. They rode bulls, wrestled steers, done 70 calving seasons and have lived on horseback. These aren’t sissies! Do you think they are going to let you protect them, “for their own good.” Well, if so, that’s an America the media obviously doesn’t know. Strong, independent, resilient, resourceful eastern Colorado and western Kansas women are no different.
But what about everyone else?
I liked the story of the football coach who went off on the fear of COVID spreading over the course of practices or through our schools. He related that when kids sign up for football, they sign a waiver. It states that football can be a dangerous, even life-threatening sport, and that by signing the waiver, you release others around you for the responsibility you assume as the athlete.
How does that not apply to COVID? SIgn the waiver and get in life’s game, or sit in the stands and watch those who do. There are reasons we call them individual rights. Somehow, the political and media machine has put the responsibility for our peers health directly on our shoulders and removed it from our own.
How does that not apply to Christians? Jesus didn’t sit in the stands; He got His hands dirty, touched the diseased, let them touch Him and ministered with the reality that in this world you will have trouble… and He was clear in intimating “I’m part of it of that trouble.”
Matthew 10 can be read like it’s an uncomfortable family holiday gathering...
“Everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it. Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
Luke 12 puts it this way - sound like today’s world?
49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
What will the church do - will it follow the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in Hebrews who endured much to commit to living out and witnessing to the mighty Life of Christ?
Will the church follow Paul's lead describing the difficulties of living out our faith:
READ 2 Corinthians 11:12-31 [click], then ask if we, as the church, should be waiting for the approval of men. Should we reshape our mission to include public health? OR should we lead the people with boldness and confidence into a deep, raw, real commitment to Jesus Christ and the division that comes with it?
I love that that may mean having church where the public is - Walmart [like this, click], or a beach [see below], or a park, or a mountainside.
Let's feed the 4000 together on God's Word.
Worship leader Sean Feucht defies Gov. Gavin Newsome's mandate against church gatherings using the beach as his sanctuary. He is calling for a generation to rise up and become active politically as Christians to bring the light to a country that needs The Light. See more at his weblink Hold the Line.
RISE, Oh Sleeper! [Hold the Line]
This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
If all you heard was fingerpointing and condemnation, you missed the point. The point is the church should be center stage from here through the election. The church should be present, enthusiastic about sharing truth, unapologetic for scripture speaking as powerfully as it does and receptive to the needs of our communities.
It should be clear who is leading - and the invitation to join or self-protect should be honored and supported. Those remaining in the closet, masked and gloved up, should not be the ones setting the agenda for those who are ready to meet. If the church can meet in Walmart effectively, maybe we need to turn our churches into store fronts and welcome the .com customers.
Live Life IN CHRIST!