This month has been hectic and fear-induced leading to panic and dismay. The thing that is surprising is not how the world is behaving and fearfully living, but how the churches and Christians are responding. As Christians we are to be set apart from the world, we are to trust in God, and proclaim His name to those who are unsaved. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2). As Christians, we are to live as examples of Christ and be the light and salt in this world, not conforming to the world and living in panic. "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:13-14). "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16). Instead of showing the world that we believe and follow a God who is in control of ALL things, many are showing that what they say they believe is not the case.
Yes, people need to be careful and take care of their health, especially those with illnesses or weak immune systems, but the church itself should remain steadfast on God's Word, and continue to shine a light on Jesus Christ. Those who are susceptible to illnesses should be using common-sense and staying home, but the church should not be canceling worshiping God because of a flu virus which happens every winter season. Instead of being fearful and panicking by what the media is dramatizing and telling us how we need to live, what happened to trusting God's Word and obeying Him? "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him," (Proverbs 3:5-6a).
Think about many Christians in other countries, like China for example, who are not allowed to worship God openly or freely but have to risk their lives just to come together as believers and praise Jesus' name. Think about the thousand Jews who gathered together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray together even when a virus is going on (https://www.foxnews.com/world/coronavirus-china-israel-prayer-cure). Think about all those Christians who were persecuted for their faith, who were told all they had to do was deny Christ and they would live but instead they kept their faith in God knowing that God is in control and the soul lives on in eternity. "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:12).
Many Christians are persecuted for their faith, but in the United States we have been able to worship freely and openly live for God. Since we have not had difficulties in saying we are Christians, we have become lazy and down right disobedient to God. We cancel church services if it snows, if it is predicted to snow, if a flu is going around... what happened to worshiping God with all our heart, soul, STRENGTH, and mind? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5). What happened to respecting God and honoring Him despite weather conditions or our feelings? What happened to taking up our cross and following Jesus? "Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Luke 9:23). I believe in the United States we have let the world come in the church and have greatly weakened our faith and stance on truth. We have let the devil led us in fear and emotions instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us and reign over our flesh. We are to give all to God, not just when its sunny or we feel like doing so, we are to give Jesus Christ all because He gave His all for us even to death!
God tells us to not be fearful, to trust in Him fully, to pray, to help and love others, come together as one body believing in Christ, that this world is not our home, to look at our eternal treasures and not store up earthly ones, that our bodies are temporary but our soul remains for eternity, that we will suffer on this earth because we are followers of Christ and because we are living in a sinful, imperfect world with sinful and imperfect bodies. God warns us about the end times and tells Christians how to prepare and be ready so that we will not be fearful or turn our hearts from Him but stand strong knowing He has everything in His hands and all things happen to bring glory and honor to God. We will not understand many things on this earth, we will not know why certain things happen, because we only see one piece of the puzzle and not the whole picture. "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Why do churches cancel? Why have Christians fallen for the fear induced by the media and by others? Why are people acting as if the world is ending? Where are the Bible-believing, Christ-following, Holy Spirit led Christians? Where is the Church of God?
Christ did not let any sickness prevent Him from obeying God, fellowshipping with His disciples, or even communicating with those who were sick. Christ touched lepers, went up to people who were outcast and called unclean, "And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper," (Matthew 26:6). His disciples did the same, yes Jesus is God and we are human, but we are to live by Jesus' example and strive to be more like Him daily.
With all things in life, there is a healthy balance. An appropriate amount of fear to know when something is harmful. With godly wisdom we know how to act and what to do, it would not be wise to infect ourselves or live with zero fear, God gives us a godly fear to help us make wise decisions. With godly fear, we know right from wrong. However, we are not to live in fear or let it consume us. We are to put our complete trust in God and when we are fearful we are to go to Him in prayer and ask Him to help us not fear but find solace in His presence.
Yes, you can worship at home, we are supposed to worship God daily. But the whole reason for a church is to come together as believers, worship together, uplift God's name, and praise Him in unity. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20).
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. - Matthew 24:6-14