By: Gary L. Hutchens
In a previous article, “The Lost Summer,” having considered the massively life altering effects of the corona virus pandemic on our culture, a follow up question is in order, especially for us as Christians: Are we getting carelessly comfortable with those effects?
A great deal of controversy and debate has been generated over mandated quarantines, wearing masks in public, social distancing, when, and under what conditions, to reopen businesses and schools. None of those issues are the real focus of our question, Are we getting carelessly comfortable with the effects of the pandemic?
As Christians we need to search our souls more deeply. In early to mid-March churches across the country were ordered by state and local officials to close their buildings to public worship and Bible study. Initially, most members understood the reasoning behind such an order and agreed that it was a necessary precaution at that time.
Churches of Christ all across the nation, and around the world, responded by live-streaming and pod casting worship services and Bible studies over various internet platforms. That allowed members to stay connected in spirit, if not in physical presence.
It also proved to be an amazing outreach, with the gospel of Christ undoubtedly being taught on a massively wider scale than ever before. Christians shared the pod casts and live-streams with family, friends, neighbors and work associates who were not members of the Lord’s church. “Watch Parties” have been set up wherein small groups gathered to worship, listen and study together. That kind of response has been very encouraging.
However, concerns arise. Some congregations began meeting again in their buildings for worship only in the month of May. Most did not open up their buildings until June, and some of those advised members at higher risk to stay home until July. The vast majority of congregations did not resume Sunday morning Bible classes in the building until at least sometime in August, and in some congregations they still have not resumed. Sunday evening worship and Wednesday evening Bible classes probably remain casualties of the pandemic in most all congregations. These limited gatherings carry guidelines: masks, social distancing, no handshaking or hugging allowed.
Our question again: Are we getting carelessly comfortable with these effects of the pandemic? It’s been seven months, or more, since the initial shut-down and restrictions. God sent His Son to establish the church on this earth for the purpose of drawing together those who become Christians (Acts 2:47). The scriptures teach that Christians are to purposefully gather together to worship God and study and teach His word (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-20; 16:1-2; Heb. 10:23-25). Gathering together for these purposes is central to our identity as the church.
Having been restricted, have we become comfortable not gathering together? The devil will look for any opening to get into our hearts and weaken us spiritually. Have we allowed him to influence us to the point where we like not having to come to the church building? At the same time, are we getting out and going to work and other places on a regular basis? Subconsciously, have we come to use the whole pandemic scenario as a convenient excuse for not coming together with the church? We need to search our hearts and souls and pray for God’s wisdom as we answer these questions…
Gary L. Hutchens