Have you ever felt yourself grieving over the things that God grieves over? Today, I have.
Over these last four weeks, we have withheld from God what is rightly His. You can argue over the necessity of it. You can claim that we had no choice. But you cannot escape the factual statement that the body (the church) has decided for the welfare of it’s own parts, to withhold from the Head of the church the corporate worship He is worthy to receive. Some may say that it is uncaring or selfish to even state this obvious current reality, but it stands nevertheless as a testimony to what the body prioritizes. It has chosen a benefit unto itself (no matter how necessary that be) over rendering to God the benefit He is rightly entitled to. I wonder how we are looked at by our brothers and sisters, by those who every Sunday fear being discovered in their house church and, as a result, being sent away to ‘re-educational camps’ so they return to towing the party line (the People’s Party, that is), and yet they still assemble? Or how our African brothers and sisters look at us when they daily fear being discovered by the majority Muslim population and being burned alive within the walls of their own church, and yet they still assemble? Does it make you ask yourself if you are denying the very purpose God created you for; to worship Him? Does it cause you to ask of yourself what was famously asked of the twelve when they heard the words ‘Where is your faith’? Do you feel that if you withhold your corporate worship even one more day, the very stones around you will cry out in worship thus taking your place?
Have you ever felt yourself grieving over your congregation? Today, I have.
All my moderately short clergy career, I have been solely focused on bringing people to Christ. I have attempted to preach people to Christ and teach people to Christ. I have rebuffed and corrected, encouraged, and lifted up people all for the sake of bringing them to Christ and so that they could bring people to Christ. It deeply pains me that because of the restrictions imposed upon opening churches, I will be used as an instrument that will now keep people from bringing their sacrifice of worship to Christ because they either can’t or won’t adhere to the restrictions. This policeman role in a clergy setting is foreign to me. For me, it was a role I took on before my call to ministry when I walked the recreation yard and housing units of a prison. Keeping inmates from everything bad was the job, just like bringing people to everything good (Christ) is the clergy job in it’s entirety, or at least it was until yesterday.
Have you ever felt yourself grieving over the death of reason? Today, I have.
Somehow, we’ve convinced ourselves that wearing a modified gym sock with two elastic strings around our mouth, sometimes days without laundering, will save thousands from illness or death. But does anyone know what a proper medical mask is, or how they are to be used? Do we follow the medical guidelines and requirements in obtaining the proper equipment and in using these types of personal protection equipment, from setting to setting and gathering to gathering? Or is this really only a Pharisaical public display of our own righteousness as we viral virtue signal to each other in the display of the mask that we’re in this together. Is reason and logic dead? Has Lady Wisdom been silenced and replaced with meaningless displays of self-righteousness? Has the bottom-line mission changed, that being to go and bring those to Christ, whether it be for salvation or, just as importantly, bringing them to worship? Are we denying our eternal purpose in withholding from God what is rightfully due Him all because of a lack of faith?
Today, I find myself grieving as I struggle, not to be intentionally controversial or selfishly uncaring or perceived as foolishly ignorant or callously dismissive of the seriousness this virus demands. I find myself grieving as I honestly pose these questions to myself, trying to find an answer to them, and what those answers mean for us moving forward. O.M.