I hate not being able to “have” church. I miss people and being able to worship together. However, seeing the response to social distancing mandates from the “Church” it would seem that Jesus commanded us to “Go into all the world and gather in buildings once or twice a week!” He didn’t.
In Matthew 5:31-46, Jesus gives us the criteria used to separate the sheep from the goats at the judgement. Gathering together isn’t one of them. Nowhere does Jesus say, “Well done. You had great meetings!” Let’s look at the six things that were evaluated in this passage as calls to action.
- Feed the hungry.
- Satisfy the thirsty.
- Show strangers hospitality.
- Clothe the poor.
- Care for the sick
- Visit the prisoner
What’s not on that list? Having church. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t gather or that church buildings are wrong. Yes, the Bible says not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet the assembling is not our purpose. We assemble to encourage one another to fulfill our purpose. In context that is very clear.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Could it be that God is using these present circumstances to awaken us to purpose? If our “normal” assembling together didn’t motive action those six things Jesus used as criteria, then what is the purpose of assembling together anyway.
The truth is, though we have to be creative, the church can still assemble even in a quarantine lockdown. I don’t think it’s by chance we have technology for such a time as this. Could we use that same creativity to find unique ways to accomplish what Jesus declared eternally important?
These six things the church can still do in a pandemic. We just have to be creative. Our challenge at all times is to not be about the gathering together, but about the encouraging one another to good works. How can we still do these six things? Here are some ideas.
- Feed the hungry – Stock local food banks and pantries.
- Satisfy the thirsty – Provide water/sports drinks for first responders and frontline workers. And don’t forget sharing Jesus, the Living Water!
- Show strangers hospitality – Use social media to ask who needs help in your community.
- Clothe the poor – Spring clean and donate.
- Care for the sick – Food and supply drop-offs, prayer and electronic communication.
- Visit the prisoner – Find out who does jail outreach in your area. Adopt a prisoner. Write and call.
What other ways can we creatively BE the church right now. And let’s not forget the commands at the end of Matthew 28. We can still go. We can still disciple. We can still teach the commands of Jesus. We can even baptize – have family members baptize one another!
The truth is, Jesus promised in that same passage that He is with us always! Even in a pandemic. Even if we can’t gather like “normal” we can still do what Jesus called us to do.
Those six things can still be done. What are some other unique things the church can still do, #today!