No matter where you look in history, you will find a wide range of events occurring that forever changed the world. In the following ‘To sharpen Our Thinking’ article, Kathleen (Day 20) asks us what such a defining moment in the history of the church means to us.
“Bye Family. I gotta go”.
“But Daddy, we’re in lockdown.”
“What? I mean, it’s Sunday. I gotta go to church!”
Our routine of “going to church” has been interrupted. Some would say, sabotaged.
Last night I listened to the writer Max Lucado, being interviewed on the CBN News Channel in the United States. He reminded us that what appears to be evil, (the pandemic), God is going to use for good. He said that this is a defining moment in the history of the church.
I agree. This is a defining moment in the history of the church. Certain activities have ceased; others have been replaced. We are compelled to increase our technology skills if we want to communicate with others. Zoom, the online video conferencing software has become a necessity.
Pastors, deacons, worship leaders, choir members, these public people, now sit in their homes on Sunday morning, in private. Some are feeling slightly uncomfortable. Some repress what they term “righteous” anger; it shouldn’t be like this. Some feel foolish, talking to a computer screen. “Hey, is anyone out there?”
Others are totally out of their comfort zone. Who will applaud them? Pat them on the back and say nice things about the service? Are they able to worship the Lord with just their wife and children as their congregation? Will their teenage kids respect them? Should they banish the family pets from the meeting?
It all comes down to where, what and who, is church?
One weekend, I was one of 26,740 people tuned in to a “live” online Sunday service. For me, it was on Saturday night, because I am in a different time zone. We couldn’t have squeezed into a church building, but …that was church.
We are six in our bubble; we sit round in the lounge every evening and read and pray portions of God’s Word. We take Communion together. We are church.
On a usual Resurrection Sunday, churches are usually full to overflowing. At Eastertime this year, church as God sees it, could not have fitted into any building on the planet. We worshipped Him before His Throne, where there is room for everyone. That was church.
Church can be found in the most unlikely of places. Let’s visit a few.
In a hospital in the Philippines, a pastor prayed for the medical team. Actually, he did more than pray for them, he shared the Gospel with them and invited them to repent and receive the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. That’s church.
Every evening, several members of our local government, together with some pastors, meet via Zoom. They encourage one another with a reflection from the Bible. They pray together and share amazing answers to their prayers. They take Communion, together. That’s church.
Our Chief of Police, a committed Christian, took several members of the police force to the local hospital carpark. While the red and blue lights flashed, they prayed for the doctors and nurses in the hospital. That’s church.
As I write this article, we are watching a video that has just been published on Facebook. A patient is being wheeled out of the Intensive Care Unit in our local hospital. The doctors and nurses are clapping. He has recovered from Covid-19. When the Unit was opened by a high official in our local government, he had prayed for God’s overruling and for His presence, as he walked between the empty beds. That’s church.
I heard of a believer who expressed a fear of dreadful punishment if he did not meet with a church congregation. If I could contact him, I would reassure him that worship is a spiritual connection; the physical connection with other like-minded people is an added bonus. I would invite him to look up, not around, when he worships. Where, what, how, or even when, must never become more important than WHO we worship.
God is calling out to His people. “Come. I want to spend time with you. Your service for Me has taken you away from Me. Your religious routine has become more important than connecting with Me. Come my child. I want to spend time with you! Come close to Me. I am not social distancing.”
“Hey, Family. We’re not going to the church building today. Come and join me. God wants to spend time with us. Yes, it’s O.K. Honey, Kitty can come too.”