“Just blame it on corona!”
Have you heard this phrase over the past week, or has it perhaps slipped out of your own mouth?
Since March, our everyday lives have been stripped of normalcy. Routines like going to work, school, and the grocery store now require adjustment and flexibility. Likewise, participating in church activities looks different. No more shaking hands to greet those around you in a Sunday service, no more church-wide Wednesday night dinners. All churches have had to make changes since their pre-pandemic days.
Too often, when familiar routines change or become more difficult, we’re prone to check out or procrastinate. (Has anyone ever ignored a smartphone update simply because you don’t want to deal with learning a new software?) When you have a good excuse––like a worldwide pandemic––it’s especially easy to become apathetic.
We are undoubtedly living in a strange season, and there are many valid reasons for slacking off in areas of normal life. We should give ourselves grace and be patient through change, but the coronavirus pandemic is not an excuse to check out of church. In fact, it’s more important now than ever to be engaged, whether attending in-person or participating virtually.
GOD DESIGNED US TO LIVE IN COMMUNITY
As followers of Christ, we are adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:15). Not only are we children of God, but we also have fellowship with other believers, our brothers and sisters in the unified body of Christ. We each bring different, God-given gifts to this family of God (Romans 12:4-7).
Experiencing church is not like dining at a restaurant, where you come, receive something, and leave. For believers, church should look like the kitchen, where everyone has a job and is working together toward a common mission.
Church is not about getting a feel-good boost before the work week; it’s about getting your hands dirty, walking alongside fellow believers, encouraging one another, and striving together to further the kingdom of God.
How does this work during a pandemic? It involves:
- Serving fellow believers, whether virtually or in person;
- Praying with and for believers, whether virtually or in person;
- Giving to the local church, whether virtually or in person;
- Worshiping with believers, whether virtually or in person.
SERVING FELLOW BELIEVERS
The Bible says that we are to encourage one another daily (Hebrews 3:13), confess our sins and pray for each other (James 5:16), carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
In today’s world, serving other believers can look like mailing an encouraging card, making dinner for a family, meeting someone for a picnic, or simply calling to check on a friend. Regardless of how we reach out to members of our church family, it is imperative that we do so.
PRAYING WITH AND FOR BELIEVERS
In the past six months, I have experienced powerful prayer with fellow believers in unconventional situations. When one of my friends was admitted to the emergency room due to COVID-19 concerns, several friends who lived in different states got on one call and took turns praying aloud. It was a beautiful way to join together, separated by distance, but united in time and in mission, to lift our friend to the Lord.
This experience reminded me to be bold about praying with others. When a church member shares a request, offer to call and pray for them in real time rather than praying privately.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” What a unique blessing to approach God’s throne, not only by ourselves, but also hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters in Christ!
GIVING TO THE LOCAL CHURCH
It’s easy to give in seasons of prosperity, and it’s harder to give from a place of need. Right now many people are struggling financially. As humans, our automatic response is to tighten our fists and cling to whatever we have left. However, Jesus calls us to a life of sacrifice, not self-sufficiency.
In the Old Testament, God told the Israelites that they were robbing Him by withholding the “payments of the tenth.” He also promised to provide abundantly if the Israelites trusted Him by sacrificing monetary valuables. “‘Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure’” (Micah 3:10).
Giving to the church is a tangible representation that we trust God to provide. When our day-to-day circumstances are unstable, giving is an important reminder to turn our focus toward God and away from worldly desires.
WORSHIPING WITH BELIEVERS
In Colossians 3:16, Paul instructs Christians to “let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
Like prayer, worship is powerful both individually and corporately, and we should not neglect the latter because it may require more effort in this season. In Psalm 34:3, David invites God’s people to “exalt his name together.” Whether you are socially distanced in a pew or sitting in your bedroom watching on a screen, worship the Lord wholeheartedly with your church congregation.
In a time when it’s easy to step back, sleep in, or check out, fight to stay active in your church. Be creative about ways to safely engage and commit to your local church community.