What I Read Today:
Titus 3; John 18; Hosea 12; Psalm 25; 1 Chronicles 1; Genesis 28
I don’t believe that people truly want to remember all of the scriptures. Many like to cherry-pick the verses that work for them and disregard those they disagree with. During the Coronavirus outbreak, we’ve witnessed some interesting behavior.
Here in Southern Illinois 2 churches that I know of, one near Carbondale and another in Litchfield defied orders to remain closed and both suffered serious outbreaks that landed several members in the ICU.
In Universal City, Texas, Pastor Ron Arbaugh wished he could do things over again after 50 of his members were sickened.
Fights have broken out between local churches and denominational leaders, over being asked to not sing, being asked to wear masks, and being asked to stay 6 feet apart.
This is a unique situation. How does the church respond when asked to shut its doors or modify its practices during a health crisis?
Titus 3 gives us some insight into how we should behave during times of crisis.
Titus 3:1-2, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” ESV
Let’s start with obedience to rulers and authorities. There is a difference between being told you can’t worship your God and being asked to stay out of a building. We have come to believe that worship of God is about attendance in a sanctuary. We have come to believe that the traditional way of worship is the only way of worship. Songs, liturgies, handshakes, and hugs are mandatory. So now we’ve come to view any change in that worship as an attack on our way of life. Inside the church, we’ve had whole churches split over something as silly as changing to a new hymnal.
Now when the government comes along and says you can’t meet in groups of more than 10 or 50, people believe that they are being persecuted. The reality is that Americans have no idea what persecution really looks like. We’re spoiled rotten. Persecution can be found in places like North Korea where you get shot for owning a Bible. Or China where you go to jail for teaching anything that the state doesn’t approve. Or Africa where warring tribes kill people over what church they attend. Or how about Iran where converting to Christianity carries a death sentence. That’s persecution. Being asked to watch church on TV, or wear a mask and not hug one another is not persecution.
The second issue that Paul discusses is that we should be ready for every good work. Shouldn’t the church have been looking for ways to serve during this crisis? Some did and continue to do excellent work. Some made masks, put together food banks, and helped with basic needs. Unfortunately, the more vocal chose to argue and they got the headlines.
It is our Christian duty to love our neighbors. If that means wearing a mask, then we wear a mask. If that means finding new ways to worship to protect the most vulnerable then that’s what we should do.