Calling off all church activities and events for an indefinite period of time just seems all wrong! Over my four-and-a-half decades of ministry, we’ve had to cancel a Sunday here and there because of snow and ice, but even then, I never felt good about it or liked it – even a little! My generation is probably the last of a long series of generations that equated church attendance with faithfulness. Just referring to someone as “faithful” meant they were at the building every time the doors were opened, and probably were good candidates for elders. I knew it wasn’t true. I preached that it wasn’t true. I wrote books declaring that it wasn’t true! But hey, I didn’t want anyone to suspect that I was unfaithful. On one hand it’s probably healthy that many don’t think that way any more, but on the other hand, it’s probably contributed to the graduate distancing of members from their church family and clearly changed the definition of church loyalty. Good or bad – that’s just the way it is.
All that being said, postponing our time to be together as a church family leaves me feeling very empty and sad. I love seeing and being with folks I love dearly. I miss the thrill of just seeing everyone, getting hugs and arm stretching hand-shakes, and seeing so many smiling faces that love the Lord and His people! That’s what church families do. Our whole life is geared around our next get together! Bible classes, ministries, rehearsals, fellowships, and Sunday morning are the highlights of my week! Whenever I have been asked what my favorite day of the week is, without hesitation I say Sunday! Church family day! And now, we’re postponing it for two weeks or more, depending on what the health experts tell us. Did you notice I said “postpone”? We can’t call off church – we are the church whether we’re together or alone in our car with Jesus. We can’t say we’re cancelling worship, because worship is our life given as a living sacrifice to our loving God. So what is it we’re postponing? Loving one another – encouraging one another – edifying one another, and bearing one another’s burdens. At least in person!
I have no doubt at all that we will get over this and be back together soon – stronger and closer to one another than ever before! Like anything that happens, we need to see the opportunity it affords us. Time to draw closer to family. Time to be alone with God and His Word and reconnect because everything else is slowing down. A time to reevaluate how important God’s support system is. He called it His body and His family. We call it His church…our church. Don’t feel bad and don’t feel guilty about being home instead of with your church family. God is still in charge, we are still His people, and He will turn a virus into a victory just like He turned an execution into an exodus from sin! And since love casts out fear, lets spread the love by using prayer, phones, and social media to build up and support others during these unusual times.
Okay – I don’t like it, but I will make the most of it and be a better person when it’s over. How about you?