If I were giving a State of the Church address, what would I say in our current situation with COVID.? Now I do not go to bed restless because I am not sure of what will happen in the long run to the Church. And that is because I fully trust the Head of His Body, Jesus Christ when He said, "I will build My church."(Matt. 16:18) Christ IS building His Church and "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."(Matt. 16:18). So, if I were giving a State of the Church address, I would say the State of the Church is...NOT GOOD.
In the midst of COVID, there are churches that have opened their doors, but some people are not coming to church. Rather, they have opted to stay home and watch via live stream. And that is not because of health reasons. Other churches have not opened their doors but have gone fully remote, even though their buildings are large enough to open it's doors and still abide by the COVID restrictions. Churches need to open their doors and believers need to go.
The people in our church, both young and old, could not wait to get back together. Believers love to be with other believers and worship together. After all, there is just something about gathering together corporately with other Christians on the Lord's Day to worship through the preaching of God's Word, congregational singing, praying, giving and fellowship. Besides the joy of meeting together, it is commanded in Scripture,
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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."
We are not to neglect to meet together. That is the habit of some. But I fear that is becoming the habit of most. Not gathering together with the saints and watching via live stream is not only a bad habit, but also a hard habit to break. After all, it is convenient to sit in the comfort of your own home. But that is not church and that is not applying the truth of these verses. Furthermore, the God of the Bible is not a God of convenience. We have fashioned Him into our own likeness and made Him a God of convenience. Unfortunately, our current evangelical culture promotes this Christianity of convenience.
Do you think the sovereign God of the universe was taken by surprise when COVID hit our world? By no means! When He gave us this command to assemble together as a local church body, He was not thinking to Himself that now He has to somehow amend His Word to adjust to the circumstances. His Word is eternal. The truths therein are applicable in all circumstances.
Now, there are some who may need to stay home because they or someone in their family has serious health concerns, such as going through chemo treatment for cancer or complicated pulmonary issues. And having live stream can help them participate for worship on the Lord's Day.
But if you or someone in your family does NOT have these serious health issues, why are you not attending? Is it because you do not like wearing masks? The necessity and desire for gathering with the saints on the Lord's Day for worship out of loving obedience far outweighs the inconvenience of wearing a mask.
Or is it because you are afraid? Fear is the enemy of faith. Fear cripples your spiritual life. Fear steals your joy and peace. Fear is detrimental to your spiritual health, growth and maturity.
Or could the reason be that after all it is more convenient to stay at home. But that is not church life. That is not body life. Rather, that is isolating yourself from the rest of the body.
Let me encourage you. Sickness and disease are part of a fallen world. They will always be around. If not COVID, there will be something else. Our omniscient God knows that. Our heavenly Father watches over His own. He will protect us. That does not mean we may not get sick. We do not promote or adhere to the false gospel of health and wealth. Neither do we subscribe to fatalism, thinking whatever will be will be. Rather, on the one hand, we do our part to watch over our health, and at the same time trust God as we continue to live our church lives. After all, as members of one Body, we are united not only to the Head, Jesus Christ, but also to each other. That is part of the commitment of church membership. We belong to Him and we belong to each other.
Hariton Deligiannides is the pastor of Mendon Communiy Church. Pastor Hariton proclaims the truth of Scripture in order to help people come to a knowledge of the truth, namely that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, and to then get grounded and rooted in the deep truths of Scripture.