…Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.JAMES 5:14-16
The nightmare of Friday the 13th has been unfolding longer than anyone could have ever imagined. On that infamous day, back in March of 2020, our nation shutdown in response to COVID-19.
Our lives and livelihoods were thrown upside-down by COVID-19 protocols and almost a year later, we are still upside-down and inside out. Perhaps an ounce of prevention has been worth a pound of cure in regard to COVID-19, but the data may suggest otherwise. This article, however, is about worshiping Jesus Christ in a post COVID-19 world. If you would like to get up to speed on the legalities of the shutdown or the data surrounding the severity of the virus, read these articles:
COVID + CHURCH = ???
The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; yet, COVID protocols have been causing those of us who worship Jesus Christ to change.
Change is not all bad in regard to worship. Of course, worship style is in need of constant change, and we are actually instructed to sing a new song to the Lord. Yet, there is one thing that should never change in regard to worship and that is our obedience.
John 1 gives us a very high view of the Word because it is God and the Word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. So, as followers of Christ we must remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We live in a country that has a Christian foundation and the idea of being a Christian is familiar to many people. In fact, over 70% of American’s claim to be Christian. Yet, when it comes to the topic of ethics, morality, sex, money, power, race, science, politics, and yes COVID-19; most so-called Christians address these issues the way they want to and not through the lens of Scripture. Time and time again, these “Christians” let emotions, feelings, pop-culture, and their friends determine their way of addressing these topics.
Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
A true Christian does not address any issue via their own way, a true Christian follows Jesus and accepts His way. Jesus clearly has a Biblical Worldview. When questioned, His number one way of responding was to point to Scripture. In typical Jesus-fashion, in response to a question, He would say something along the lines of “haven’t you heard,” or “it is written” and then he would quote Scripture. But my personal favorites are Matthew 22:29 – “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” and John 5:46 & 47 – “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
The way of Christ is 100% Scripture based. The way of Christ is to have a Biblical Worldview. If you call yourself a Christian you must have a high regard for Scripture and a low regard for your way of thinking.
Sadly, our Churches are overloaded with people who are falling for the emotional/pop-culture way of addressing the tough topics of life, and the reason for this has to do with an illogical way of thinking and a depraved view of Scripture. No longer do we have people willing to renew their minds with the mind of Christ by acting like the “Noble Minded,” Acts 17 Bereans. The Bereans eagerly examined the Scriptures and were commended for it by Paul and Silus. Yet, according to the Barna Group, 80-90% of the American Church is filled with people who do not act like the “Noble Minded” Bereans and subsequently do not have a Biblical Worldview.
The first Scripture in this article, James 5, instructs the Church on how to treat the sick. Sadly, in the presence of COVID protocols, we must disobey.
James is welcoming of the sick, COVID protocols isolate the sick.
In James, the elders are to pray for the sick, COVID protocols have the elderly living in fear and in hiding.
Jesus Christ himself affirms James in Matthew 10:8 by instructing His followers to, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
COVID + CHURCH = NO PRAYING FOR THE SICK
Since COVID hit, it seems that many folks have been placing their hope and trust in social distancing, mask wearing, and any other COVID protocols that have been promoted as “life-saving.” I have seen terror in the eyes of my fellow church members when they see a densely packed crowd or a person without a mask. They publically invest time, energy, and worry into “staying safe & sanitized” in order to survive COVID-19. Yet, the King of the Universe and the King of rhetorical questions asks…
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” – Jesus
COVID + CHURCH = WORRYING ABOUT LIFE
The Apostle Paul asked a similar question in 1 Corinthians 15:55 when asking, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
COVID + CHURCH = GIVES DEATH THE VICTORY
We are the body of Christ and communion is so central to our faith that Jesus instructed us to eat together in remembrance of Him. Yet, early Christians began to disobey our Lord’s command and stopped meeting, hence the author of Hebrews encouraging us to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
COVID + CHURCH = STOP MEETING TOGETHER
From “A Parable of Saving Lives” by Chuck Swindoll
On a dangerous seacoast notorious for shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station. Actually, it was merely a hut with only one boat, but the few members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea. With little thought for themselves, they would go out day & night tirelessly searching for those in danger as well as the lost. Many lives were saved by this brave band who faithfully worked as a team in and out of the lifesaving station. By and by, it became a famous place.
Some of those who had been saved, as well as others along the seacoast, wanted to become associated with this little station. They were willing to give their time, energy and money in support of its objectives. New boats were purchased. New crews were trained. The station, once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant, began to grow. Some of its members were unhappy the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided. Emergency cots were replaced with lovely furniture. Rough, handmade equipment was discarded and sophisticated, classy systems were installed. The hut, of course, had to be torn down to make room for all the additional equipment, furniture, and systems. By the time of its completion, the lifesaving station had become a popular gathering place, and its objectives had begun to shift. It was now used as a sort of clubhouse, an attractive building for public gathering. Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed rarely occurred.
Fewer members were interested in braving the sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired professional lifeboat crews to do this work. The original goal of the station wasn’t altogether forgotten, however. Lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club’s decorations. There was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the Room of Sweet Memories with soft, indirect lighting, which helped hide the layer of dust upon the once-used vessel. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the boat crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty, some terribly sick and lonely. Others were “different” from the majority of the club members. The beautiful new club suddenly became messy and cluttered.
A special committee saw to it that a shower house was immediately built outside, away from the club so victims of the shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside. At the next meeting there were strong words and angry feelings, which resulted in a division among the members.
Most of the people wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities and all involvements with shipwreck victims. As you’d expect, some still insisted on saving lives, that this was their primary objective – that their only reason for existence was ministering to anyone needing help regardless of their club’s beauty or size or decorations. They were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast! They did.
As the years passed, the new station experienced the same old changes. It developed into another club – and yet another lifesaving station was begun. History repeated itself. And if you visit that coast today you’ll find a large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by slick professionals who have lost all involvement with the saving of lives.
Shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but now most of the victims are not saved. Every day they drown at sea, and so few others seem to care . . . so very few.
The Church has bowed to COVID, has “eaten the king’s food,” and has closed her doors. COVID has blessed the “essential” entities and the Church has agreed with its own irrelevance. Countless pastors have affirmed their social club status by shutting down. The religious structure claiming to be representational of the Church has shown its dirty laundry by agreeing with its “non-essential” status. A lighthouse is essential in every way, showing that a closed church is not only far from essential, but also far from being a lighthouse.
COVID + CHURCH = NON-ESSENTIAL STATUS
If you are a pastor and your flock is COVID-lost, point them to the TRUTH.
Stay strong and true to the WORD of Christ. Nothing COVID related is able to be affirmed by Scriptures. Obey Jesus, and do not “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2