Have you heard the chatter? There is talk that our nation is preparing to reopen. The lifting or modification of some of the Stay at Home orders is creating both excitement and anxiety. Isn’t it interesting how the news brings both hope and worry? We hope because it makes us feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We worry because we fear a resurgence of the virus and the ramifications of another shut down. We humans…we are both fickle and fragile. We hate to admit it, but it is true.
As we start thinking about getting a haircut or maybe visiting our favorite store, I want you to think about something else. When will you feel safe to attend a public worship service?
I know that is a specific question, but I don’t think it is too soon to start thinking about it. As restrictions get lifted, this will be the first time in our lives that going to a worship service in America will actually have some risk to it. Before we were introduced to the Coronavirus, attending a weekly worship service was a freedom that costs us nothing. No one lost their job, was arrested, or harassed because they went to their local church. Fortunately, I don’t think any of those things will happen when restrictions are lifted. The risk you and I will face is not political, legal or social. The risk will be exposing ourselves to a virus we have been working hard to avoid. In the face of that fear, when will you feel safe enough to gather with God’s people at your place of worship? Would you feel safe if it was less than 75 people? How about if everyone wears a mask? What if we are all sitting 6 feet apart? When would it be okay?
In another time and in another place, there was a group of believers in a city named Corinth. It was the location of a local church the Apostle Paul planted in what is now modern day Greece. The church was encountering internal strife as well as external persecution. It was not a comfortable place to worship. To attend worship at that church cost something. The cost could be as little as being laughed at or as painful as physical harm. It was complicated and those complications created fear.
Paul, in an effort to encourage those people wrote…
[I do] not mean…to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. [I] want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm. (2 Corinthians 1:24)
Returning to a weekly worship service will be complicated. For some people there will be no risk to their health. For others, it could be life threatening. Everyone falls somewhere between those two parameters. In other words, there will be a potential cost to attend a worship service. How comfortable are you with that?
The church in Corinth wanted some answers for the troubles they were facing, and Paul did provide some specific instruction for some of their questions. However, he made it clear that some questions could only be answered by each person fleshing out their own faith in Christ. He was not there to boss them into practicing their faith. He desired to work with them so they could experience joy and stand firm in a faith built on biblical convictions.
Attending church in a post-pandemic culture is not going to be fun or easy. I do believe, with all of my heart, it will be good. It is no one’s place to tell you when you should go back to a public worship service. However, I encourage you to go to a place that is committed to working with you so you can be full of joy and stand firm in the faith. By the power of God’s Spirit and the grace He abundantly supplies, we will figure all of this out in a way that pleases Him and encourages us.
Here is a song I’ve been enjoying. May it encourage you.