Why We "Closed" The Church (not that it was ever really closed)
Paul said, “Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Cor. 16:14). Directly above my belly button is a three-inch-long scar, approximately a quarter of an inch thick. Every morning I enter the shower I see it. When I strip down for bed I notice it again. My wife likes to laugh at me and point out how much less noticeable her C-section scar is. Being a boy at heart, I still find scars cool so I think I got the better end of the deal, lol. This scar is a constant reminder of a family at Park Grove Christian Church, whom I hold very dear to my heart, and their son, my friend, who’s kidneys had failed him. This scar reminds me that love is more important than my personal comfort. That love is supposed to direct everything that I do. Just as the scars in Christ’s hands, feet and side demonstrated the greatest act of love this world had ever seen (read 1 John 3:16).
This Sunday, May 10th, 2020 we are going to be gathering back together at Park Grove Christian Church for the first time in over a month. This has been a tumultuous time for our world and especially our nation. Thousands have contracted a deadly virus, many have died, businesses have closed, jobs have been lost, federal, state and local governments have taken unprecedented measures to try and protect the health and financial welfare of their people. In just a matter of weeks a roaring economy was brought to a halt, seemingly healthy people died, and everyone’s life was put on hold. With this has come a lot of fear, conspiracy and no small amount of unrest among our nations citizens.
It is in light of this latter statement that I want to remind everyone why we chose to forgo meetings at PGCC for a time. It wasn’t because of government mandate, it wasn’t because of some mass conspiracy to shut down the Church, it was a choice that I and the PGCC board made out of love and care for our flock. We followed the recommendations handed down to us by the federal, state and local governments, but not once were we directly told, “You must do this.” We chose to do it out of a sense of love and care for the people who call Park Grove their home church.
I say this, because I want people to remember “why” we made the decisions we did, and hopefully get our eyes re-centered on what is “true” and off of all the conspiracy theories and headlines floating around social media and the news. We as Christians are supposed to be people of truth and not vain discussions. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:31-32) and Paul says, “The aim of our charge is LOVE that issues from a PURE HEART and a GOOD CONSCIENCE and a SINCERE FAITH. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have WANDERED AWAY INTO VAIN DISCUSSION, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” (1 Tim. 1:5-7)
Christians, as people of the book, we are accountable to know God’s word and seek to apply it in a way that is appropriate as we are confronted with the various dilemmas life throws at us. Which is why it seemed good and best, for a short time, to forgo gathering as we normally do. As well, we are equally accountable to not misuse the word to promote vain discussions and make confident assertions over matters that we do not understand. I’m sorry to say, but spreading conspiracy theories, stirring up social media unrest, and mishandling scripture to back up your feelings on a matter is not wise, nor is it honoring to God. Yet, there has been much of this.
In recent weeks, I’ve heard and seen people say with great confidence, this virus was started in a lab as a bio weapon in China, others in Europe, some by Bill gates in order to promote his global depopulation agenda. It’s a sad day when men like Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, has to tweet “1. The earth is not flat 2. Elvis is not alive. 3. Bill Gates did not create Coronavirus in an evil plot to depopulate the world and/or usher in the antichrist. Please people. The world needs the church. Now is not a good time to lose our minds.” The genius behind Jr. Asparagus is right, the world needs us. Not, because we are inherently special, but because we have been entrusted with a precious gift. The gospel of Jesus Christ, and the truths contained in the scripture that can set a man free. Death and judgment is an absolute that all people will face (read Heb. 9:27). It may be from Covid-19, old age, cancer, or slipping off your fishing boat and drowning. Either way, people need the truth not our vain discussions.
This Covid-19 crisis has done incredible work for the spread of the gospel. Since being forced to broadcast our messages over platforms many of us in the Church had not been utilizing, I’ve been in contact with many people I hadn’t heard from in years, some I’ve never even met. But they needed the truth and prayers that were being streamed across social media and YouTube. Church, we all need to be utilizing these platforms to spread truth. Not propagate our fears of the government, vaccines, and Bill Gates. Where these things are true, we should present those facts accurately, but we need to be slow to share the first video or post that promotes our bias, especially when the information is spurious at best.
Let me be frank, there has been some over steps of power made by some governing officials in certain states. Does this concern me, not really, it only confirms that these people are going to stick to their political ideologies. Ideologies I strongly oppose. The good thing is that when election time comes, which we have every reason to believe it will, the people in those states can have those people removed from office. This is the blessing of the Republic that God, by His grace, has allowed us Americans to live in. I’m thankful that peaceful protests have been made, and that we as civilians of this nation have the right to assemble. Again, where those rights may have been infringed, come election day, I bet some folks are going to find themselves without a job. Let’s be sure that, until then, we as believers are not stirring up social media unrest by encouraging people to reach for their 5.56, but instead obeying the truth which says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2)
Park Grove Christian Church, be people of truth. Those who search out the truth, are guided by truth and live by the truth. A deadly virus, that spreads rapidly, has struck our nation. Out of obedience to the truth, I, as your pastor, instigated the discussion that led to us postponing services for a time. Why? Because I love you. The scar on my belly should be proof of my love for each of you. If I had more kidneys to give I would gladly do so for any one of you. I am grateful that we are going to gather together again. It will look different, as the threat of Covid-19 looms, but out of love, we will address whatever situation arises and hopefully take appropriate actions. As we are gathering back together let each of us take seriously the exhortation given to us by the author of Hebrews, “…consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25)