I just want to gently remind you that following Jesus was not meant for four walls. I think you knew that, but it hasn’t seemed like the Church has behaved like it.
Jesus literally died on the cross so we could be the temple that carries his presence, his Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, people had to sacrifice spotless animals so God could cleanse them of their sins. Jesus was the spotless lamb who died for our sins so we could be free to spend eternity with him. There’s no separation anymore, if we choose. If we call on his name, we are saved, and we immediately have access to the Holy Spirit. He guides us, comforts us, helps us discern, and convicts us when we step in the wrong direction.
With the Holy Spirit we are alive as the body of Christ. But I fear the loudest voices in the Church beg people to come to the circus rather than the cross. A show for entertainment rather than the way to salvation. God forbid Jesus comes back to find us petitioning with a megaphone instead of leading the broken to the cross.
When Governor Newsom halted singing in churches, he did not take away my freedom (or my ability to worship God for that matter). And assuming he doesn’t know Jesus, maybe he thinks worship is just singing. But you and I should both know that’s not all it is. I won’t pretend to know his motives, because quite frankly I don’t know him personally.
If you are anxious to exercise your “rights,” let me remind you that no one is asking you to bow down to a gold statue and deny Jesus. If that’s happening, let’s talk about petitions. But the world is seeing the (American) Bride’s bad side. She’s being a bit of a bridezilla: always inconvenienced, hasty and dramatic.
I am embarrassed by protests and petitions for the American Church because I believe she’s missed the entire point of what worship is, and what the Church’s purpose is.
I think some of the Church has puffed chests ready to fight, but has forgotten what to fight for: the lost.
If a temple was the only way to meet God’s presence, then we’d have some talking to do. But because the Holy Spirit lives in you and me, we can worship God whenever, wherever and however. This is all because of the cross.
Of course, all this bickering depends on how we define worship, but the Bible does not define worship to singing. We’ve allowed the governor to define what worship is to us. It’s tainted our view of worship.
I believe we also have a skewed view of persecution.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were persecuted. I believe someone is persecuted when he or she is asked to deny Jesus, or is physically harmed for following him.
We are not being asked to deny Jesus.
Christians in China are persecuted. They have to smuggle Bibles. And yet, we stomp our feet and clench our fists when we can’t sing with people who already know Jesus. We would rather sing songs in an empty building than offer a broken and contrite heart to the Lord. We would rather complain than pray. We would rather complain in a country where Bible verses are written on billboards and sidewalks, posted on wall decor in public, and we pass one church every few miles.
In America, it’s actually served as a variety of buffet options: online, on the lawn, and indoors.
But Americans petition what we don’t like. It’s actually how our country got started. People didn’t like England so they fled to America (I know I summed up centuries of history in one sentence, but stay with me). Our country is unique in this way; we can voice our ideals and bring forth change.
Before we petition and protest and get angry, how are we representing God in this hour? I haven’t seen us love lately. We are allowed to have differing opinions, but if it’s not done in love, I don’t feel we are representing the same God.
To display God in this dark hour (in which the country desperately needs the church), we should not be stirring up division, fear and anger. It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. And Church, we are not modeling this well.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
Facebook has become a place to debate ideals, and I have mostly seen divisive comments in the name of Christian patriotism.
I’m reminded of when the Israelites wanted a human king instead of God in 1 Samuel 8:7. I’m reminded of John 19:14-16 when the Jews wanted Caesar as king instead of Jesus (and then he was crucified). It reminds me of America, where we’ve put too much confidence in man, and therefore have been so let down by his decisions and mandates.
Have we really come to the point where we put our faith and hope in man’s (or woman’s) leadership? I have seen people equate pastors’ social media reach with spiritual authority. Politicians’ parties are equated with religion. No wonder we’ve fell to anger when things don’t line up. But we cannot look for man to fulfill the peace that only Jesus can.
Hear me out, these rules and regulations since March don’t always make sense to me; they are contradictory and I don’t enjoy the way this year has played out. It’s been devastating in many ways to say the least.
But I don’t find my hope in politics or politicians! I don’t find it in my health, my job, my schooling or people in power. I don’t even find it in pastors. I find my hope in Jesus and in his Word.
If it had not been for this season of getting out of the church building, maybe I wouldn’t have dug in so deeply to what the Bible says about sickness, death, fear and corruption. Maybe I would’ve allowed opinions and conspiracies to shape my view of the world and Jesus. Maybe I wouldn’t have talked so much about Jesus to people who don’t know him.
Because the least we could do is share the gift of Jesus when the world is so divided and tired.
In most cases, the lost are not the ones coming to the church building right now. So we have to bring Jesus where we see hurting people.
I think we have grievously mistaken what our role as the Bride is right now: to love and share the Gospel.
If you and I believe the same thing about God’s word — that it’s inerrant, and it does not return void — then The Great Commission has not changed with the rhythms of society. We are to carry Jesus’ mission to preach the good news. In the middle of a pandemic, we are to love and spread the gospel.
If our goal is to finally knock down the doors (or lawn) of the church and sing with all the oxygen in our lungs during this Covid-19 era, then what is it for? Once we all finally get our way, will we look to our right and left, and just see fellow Christians? Are we looking to preach to the choir, or to actually be missionaries to our neighbors, coworkers, and families?
I hope we aren’t fighting for our “rights” without remembering where our hope is and what it’s all for. Without remembering that we have lost souls to share Jesus with.
Our world is hurting, Church. People need to see Jesus right now. They are scared, anxious, confused and caught in conspiracies. And they starve for hope.
They are grasping for something tangible— something concrete. And rather than offering them living water (John 4), we respond via social media with angry, condescending and malicious comments.
What spills out of us in a time of pressure has to be the Holy Spirit, otherwise the world will pass on the whole Jesus thing. They’ll drink something that looks more appetizing.
If you’re one who has been struggling with this, ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you. Read the Word to realign your thoughts. Stop forming an opinion based on social media shares, and look to the Truth. Start asking God for wisdom based on his Word, which never changes.
We should not be surprised when people, politicians, celebrities, media and corporations fail us. They will.
But Jesus is the one who has overcome the world (John 14).
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17-18)
But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:8-12)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22)
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him…A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression…The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe. Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice. (Proverbs 29:20, 22, 25, 26)
***disclaimer*** I was very hesitant to write this, because the last thing I ever want to do is be divisive. But nonetheless, I believe it needs to be said. If you have comments, I ask that it would display the fruit of the spirit, not condemning (filled with grace), and that it would not come from a place of stirring up anger and arguments (Proverbs 18:19,21; Proverbs 19:11; Proverbs 29:22; Galatians 5:22-26)