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Over the past few weeks, I have been saddened by pastors and churches ignoring the government recommendations to not gather in large groups and to practice social distancing. Pastors are holding worship services. Pastors are being arrested. All of this is because of the defiance to the government.
There is separation of church and state. There is freedom of religion. There is also free will. God has given us free will. We get to decide if we will listen to the government, if we will obey God’s Word, or even if we want to go a totally different path. We get to decide.
Too often, people cherry pick scripture rather than read all of God’s Word. We select what we like or what fits our agenda. This is a big reason why I always wanted the congregation to have their Bibles open when I preached. It is important for you to know all of God’s Word, not just pieces. It’s very dangerous to blindly follow someone who wants to feed you a piece of God’s Word, but not adhere to scripture found elsewhere. God’s Word is the entire Bible, not portions that favor you.
Whether you love and fear God, or you disbelieve, read Romans 13:1-7. This is what God says about authority. As a follower of Jesus, we are to follow the government unless it is something that defies something that goes against the law of God. This means that when the government says STAY HOME, that you stay home. You are not defying God to stay home and worship in your home. Please understand that nowhere in the Bible does it tell you that you must go to a building to worship. The church is people. We can worship right from our homes. Plus, we have the added blessing today of technology. We can actually join together online, without anyone having to leave their homes, through Facetime, Zoom, YouTube, etc. It’s all there. God has provided.
Additionally, claiming that God will keep you safe from the virus so you can defy the government is also wrong. Yes, God says that no one can pluck someone from His hand (see John 10:28). This actually speaks of the soul of a believer being safe; souls don’t get the Coronavirus. However, Jesus also tells us not to test God (see Matthew 4:7). Remember when the devil tried to tempt Jesus to throw Himself down so the angels would catch Him? We should not live life trying to get ourselves into trouble to see if He will rescue us. He has given us wisdom and discernment. He has given us resources. Faith isn’t declaring that He will keep you safe from Coronavirus and entering a large group of people to show everyone God is keeping you safe from the illness. Faith is trusting that even while this great pandemic is taking its toll on the whole world, you are trusting in God’s plan, you are trusting in God’s Word, and you know that He will use everything for His good purpose.
Not staying home, choosing to go out when you are not essential… This is not love. This is pride. This is ignorance. This is wrong. If you are going to the grocery store more than once a week, there is a problem. Plan a little. Be creative with the items you have in your cupboard. God made us in His image and He is the most creative. So you have creativeness in you. Let it flow. If you feel like you are climbing the walls at home, ask yourself why you cannot stand to be home… let God and you work that out. As you find yourself adapting to a life very different from what you once knew, draw near to God and He will draw near to you (see James 4:8). Repent. Pray. Love. Be a blessing.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority. – Romans 13:1-7 [NLT]