Estimated reading time: 6 minutes:-)
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge how explosive this topic can be.
My own dad, when I told him I was going to write about this last night, voiced his concerns on the validity of my argument because it sparks such volatile reactions from ‘both sides.’
I know this is dangerous territory, treading on political ground. I’m here only to present what I believe the Bible tells us about circumstances like these, not to present my personal bias, which I know is difficult. I pray God can speak through me and use me as a vessel for his voice, and not my own, because this topic is just that significant. But bear with me.
Last Wednesday, my youth pastor was talking to us about how, in Germany, the people aren’t allowed to sing. He told us how even we were told by governing officials at first that we couldn’t sing in church, but after some court cases were won, their position on worship shifted from prohibition to strong suggestion. So we sing. But it shocked me.
How can you just stop worshiping God? Is it possible, especially in times like these when worship is so life-giving? My heart goes out to those in Germany and other places that prohibit such a necessary activity.
And here’s what I believe Jesus would say to a circumstance like this: sing anyway.
In the last several months, I’ve heard passages like Romans 13 many times. Verses like, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). The first part of Romans 13 talks about subjecting yourself to authority because ultimately, God instituted that authority, whether Christian or not.
I’ve heard several times that “we need to respect authority and close down church because that’s what the government wants us to do.”
But is this biblical?
This is what I’ve had to remind myself the last year: I am first a citizen of heaven, and secondly a citizen of the United States. Secondly. That does not mean I completely reject everything my government tells me to do. But when it comes into conflict with my faith, I will always choose to obey God over my government, or at least try. And shutting down church, at least from what I’ve seen in the Bible, is a direct act against faith.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Brothers and sisters, I will not stop singing for Jesus Christ! I will not keep my mask on when I am worshiping my God because I know my God is in control of my health and of the health of those around me. I will not stop meeting with fellow Christians because my government tells me to. God calls me to praise, to meet, to worship, so I will praise. I will meet. I will worship.
And I don’t say these things to demonstrate a blind faith, a reckless inconsiderate action against those around me as some are inclined to suppose. I say these things as a testimony to my faith.
I am not afraid of the Corona virus because I know my God is in control, and I want to show others that his power rules this. I am not stifling my singing with a mask because my God deserves the best I can give, and that is a testimony to the majesty of Jesus.
I think we’ve forgotten that God knows each and every day we have left. He has them numbered in his mind.
Back when my youth pastors were considering whether to open up again or not, I asked them: is God bigger than the Corona virus? Is God bigger than our government? If he wants us to open, don’t you think he will protect our church despite mandates and regulations?
But there is also submission. There is also Romans 13, and I think it needs to be taken seriously.
Masks suck, I don’t think there is any denying that. And I don’t want to get super political here, but I hate wearing them and I wish we didn’t have to. But there is also a level a respect we are called to give to authorities, whether we disagree with them or not. Romans 13:7 says, “Pay to all what is due them–taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”
I’d like to focus on the respect portion of this verse most. While it is a powerful testimony to keep a church open even when told not to by the government, I believe it is also a powerful testimony to abide by restrictions in certain circumstances in order to demonstrate the respect we are called to have towards our government.
It makes me sad to think the world stereotyping Christians as entitled Caucasians living cushy lives who are appalled at the demand to put a piece of fabric over their face. From my non Christian friends, I’ve noticed their view of Christians has shifted from, “they’re nice people,” to “they’re selfish pieces of trash who opt to risk the lives of others in order to stay comfortable.” While I think this is obviously a skewed view on reality, it still makes me sad to think our selfish response to the Corona virus has been noticed.
As Christians, we were never promised comfortable lives. We were promised hard lives, lives full of trial and tribulation and suffering.
The question boils down to: are we selfishly uncomfortable or spiritually uncomfortable? Are we resistant to the rules out of our own discomfort and annoyance (like wearing a mask in a grocery store), or are we spiritually uncomfortable with the actions our government is taking (like shutting down church)?
Wearing a mask in a grocery store does not go against my faith. It may go against the constitution, but that is another topic for another time, and my ultimate authority is not the constitution; it is the Bible.
Shutting down church, however, does go against my faith, and I will not stop meeting. Prohibiting worship does go against my faith, and I will not stop singing.
But because I am called to show respect to those above me, I will wear a mask in the mall. I will suffer, in this small way, to demonstrate the respect that is so lacking these days, but is demanded.
I want to leave you with a little note I found in my Bible last night. It dates back to July 7, 2019, and has a few phrases on it from the sermon I listened to that Sunday morning so long ago.
“Discouragement looks at circumstances and sees something God can’t change. Faith looks at God and sees something circumstances can’t change.”
Through it all, our God is still king. No matter what you believe about the Corona virus, whether you believe it’s a complete joke or whether you believes it’s a serious pandemic that shouldn’t be taken lightly, God is still in control. How he calls us to live our lives is not negated or disregarded during a pandemic. We are still children of God, and called to act so.
I pray God speaks over my own voice this morning and encourages you with the truth. I know sometimes I can get in the way of biblical truth because I’m imperfect and have a flawed human perspective. I’m begging God to shove me out of the way;-)
Listen to this song by Audrey Assad. It reminded me of the case in Germany about not being able to sing. She puts it perfectly: “how can I keep from singing?”
Thank you for bearing with me! Merry Christmas:-)