“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” [Heb 10:25 NIV]
When we were first told that we would not be able to meet together because of a virus, none of us expected it to be longer than a few weeks or months, but in fact it is now some 6 months since we were able to meet, with no sign of being able to in the near future. Even churches with their own buildings are wary that they may have to close again and yet it is a God given command that we should not give up meeting together.
I was challenged after watching Amir and Jack Hibbs video. Jack Hibbs’s church is a large one and meets together almost normally, standing on the 1st amendment of America’s constitution. They do take precautions for the welfare of the congregation and do advise those who are not well to stay away and God is honouring them.
Why does God commend us to meet together? Surely it is so that we can encourage (and challenge) each other to grow in faith and love for each other and to Worship our Lord in song, word and action. Sunday service is not just an attendance to gain points or a reciting of some verses and replies to make us feel good, yet the government seems to think that by allowing churches to meet without interaction from the congregation is enough. How different from the times during the last war when the nation was encouraged to pray and God answered that prayer.
We are in difficult times, there is a virus which may if not controlled run away and cause devastation. None of us want to try that out, even though all indications are that the virus is not much worse than the normal winter flu. There are lot’s of other aspects and theories, but no matter how you look at things there is no doubt that whilst God has allowed this to happen, satan is enjoying his freedom and causing mayhem. We need to remember that fact in our prayers, God has allowed this for a reason!
I am not advocating rebellion, that in itself would be going against God’s will, but we do need to spend more time in His presence and less time in the media. Only God can guide our thoughts safely and courageously and if we are going to meet together again, then that is what we all will need to do. At present, if we had a building which was available, then we would be able to allow 30 people with masks in, but there would be no singing and minimal interaction. We are meeting on Wednesday’s electronically with all it’s limitations, yet we are able to talk to each other and pray, respond to the teaching and whilst Erin leads the singing and our mics are off there is nothing to stop us from fully worshipping the Living God with our voices. It is a good ‘stop gap’ but not very good for evangelism and personal ministry, although there is nothing stopping individuals following up personally with a video call. But what about Saturday evangelism, Ladies and Men’s bible studies, our monthly prayer meetings and special meetings. All have gone into hibernation or forgotten!
Please don’t let satan win the day. The persecuted church finds ways around things and some churches in America are finding ways around the restrictions, what can we do without breaking the law and endangering people’s lives. Gideon when faced with an impossible task humanly, stopped and worshipped God (Judges 7:15) and afterwards God won the day. Job fell victim to satan, not because he was wicked but so that God could refine him and once he declared that ‘surely my redeemer liveth’ he allowed God to rebuild him.
It is so easy to fill all this spare time that we now have, even bible reading and watching teaching videos can be just entertainment if we do not allow God to speak to us. May I encourage you to spend more time just worshipping our God, Saviour and Redeemer and allow Him to touch your soul. We will meet together again, but when that happens we need to be spiritually fit and healthy ready to do his will because the nation will need to hear His Word loud and strong.