Pastor's Pen 5/14/2020
THE PASTOR'S PEN
MAY 14, 2020
It has been almost two months since we have been able to meet as a church congregation. During that time we have all faced challenges that have stretched us. But the time is drawing near when we will be able to return to gathering as a church body on Sundays (May 31).
Hopefully, we will all return with a renewed love for the church and a new appreciation for our fellowship in Christ. Although we are grateful for the ability to have stayed somewhat connected during this time period through live-streaming and zoom meetings, there is no substitute for being physically together for corporate worship and fellowship.
In light of being able to soon be reunited as a church, I have some important pastoral thoughts that I want to share with you. The primary thing that I want you to be aware of is that when you return to church not everyone in our congregation will agree on how to socially conduct themselves. Some will be very concerned over the risk of getting the coronavirus, and will want to wear a mask and gloves. Others won’t share the same concern, and will choose to not wear a mask or gloves.
In addition, due to the new configuration of our auditorium of individual chairs instead of pews, some will no doubt object to these changes, while others will welcome them as needed improvements.
Regardless of what your personal views are concerning these matters, what’s most important is that we respect each other’s opinions and concerns (or lack of concerns) and that we make sure that we don’t look down upon those who view things differently than we do.
In an article I recently read, the author expressed a likely scenario facing Christians as they return to church. He wrote,
I believe one of the ways that the enemy will seek to divide our ranks within the church is by tempting us to use our opinions against each other. If the Devil has his way, we’ll be throwing stones of accusation from all sides, calling the cautious people “soft,” labeling the optimists of being “reckless.” More than that, the enemy especially loves when we cement ourselves in political corners; adding opinionated fuel to the already tumultuous fire of conflict. (Costi Hinn)
The Apostle Paul said that “we are not ignorant of Satan’s schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11), and he was absolutely right. We know that one of the devil’s schemes is to divide Christians by inciting them to voice strong opinions over non-biblical issues. The problem is not that we hold to these opinions, but rather that we feel that anyone who doesn’t agree with us is wrong.
All of our views related to the coronavirus and social distancing come under the category of ‘liberty issues’ (issues not commanded or condemned in Scripture). This being the case, it means that we are responsible to respect those who view things differently than we do and to love them enough to not allow these differences to divide us. It was in light of the liberty issues that threatened to divide the Christians at Rome that Paul told them, “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification” (Rom. 15:2). In other words, no one was to insist on his view being the right view, while being intolerant of others who held to a differing view. The objective is always to please and edify others, rather than hurting them by demanding our own way.
How sad it would be if, in the name of holding to our strong opinions over things related to the coronavirus, that we ended up with a new kind of social distancing based on conflict rather than safety, that hindered our fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And so, in light of Christ’s love and the unity of His Church, I appeal to you to make sure that when you return to church, you love one another enough to accept those who see differently than you do in relation to the coronavirus. I encourage you to take to heart these wise words from the above mentioned article.
In the end, these attitudes prepare our hearts and minds to do one thing above all else: choose love. Preserving valuable relationships and developing healthy teams, churches, and families is more important than winning arguments, or being (more) right. (Costi Hinn)
I look forward to welcoming you back on Sunday, May 31. It will be a joy to finally see you again, and to worship with you.
In Christ’s love,