As we prepare to return, here are a few thoughts I have regarding gathering for worship during a pandemic. They are based primarily on the Great Commandment described by Jesus in Matthew 22:35-40:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." Sunday morning worship is essential in every sense of the word. If grocery stores, restaurants, and other places of business can remain open, so can the church. It is important spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. More importantly than that, we open in obedience to God and worship in celebration of what He has done and continues to do. While there may be times when we will not be able to meet in person due to extreme circumstances, our goal is to meet every week in person.
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The spiritual and physical health, safety, and care of each person in the church is essential in every sense of the word. We encourage those who have compromised immune systems and may be especially vulnerable to the virus and its effects to participate in Sunday School, Worship, and Wednesday night programs online and at home. We also encourage people to use wisdom when they join us in person by (1) practicing social distancing with nonfamily members (2) adults (not children) wearing masks when moving about the building and unable to maintain social distance 3) staying home if you or someone living with you is sick. While we encourage these things, we trust that the Holy Spirit will help you make the wise decisions for you and your family. We continue to hold to the saying: "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love." While we may have different opinions regarding these issues, we continue to strive for unity, liberty, and love.
We are called to pray for and submit to governing authorities, unless those authorities ask us to disobey God. Romans 13 encourages us to submit to authorities. At the same time, this is balanced by passages such Acts 5:29 which remind us to obey God rather than men. So far in Mississippi, the point of view of our government has been to trust the churches to make the right decisions and to maintain a separation of church and state. We believe that so long as the government is not asking us to compromise our Christian values, we will obey our governing authorities and continue to pray for them as they work with health officials to continue to combat the spread of the virus.
We are called to trust God, not test God. The Bible is clear that followers of Jesus are meant to trust in the Lord with all their souls, strength, hearts, and minds (Proverbs 3:5), but also that they should never knowingly put themselves into harm’s way just to test if God is willing or able to rescue them (Matthew 4:7). We live by faith (not fear) and wisdom (not foolishness). Of course, how each person applies faith and wisdom is the choice of each individual, and we pray that the Holy Spirit guides in each decision that is made. I am glad that God has had mercy on me, even when I have been very foolish and rebellious!
Know that we are continuing to pray for each and every one of you every day. Let us know if you have any prayer requests or needs. Feel free to reach out to me through private message if you have any questions or suggestions regarding the points I made above.
Dr. Victor Lyons
Minister, Christview Christian Church