Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation (your conduct) honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. ~ 1 Peter 2:11-16
The news of how some Christians are behaving during the coronavirus pandemic by defying governmental guidelines is disturbing.
We all know what social distancing is by now, and we should all know why it is important to do our part as this virus could be in a person’s system before any symptoms appear. Yet some Christian ministers are acting as if they and their congregations are immune because they are in a church service, thus obeying God rather than man.
Defying the instructions of those in authority, who are actually trying to save lives, is not obedience to God. Rather it is disobedience to the clear instructions given to us by the apostle Peter. Peter’s instructions in the text above is the Word of God! Peter instructs us regarding how we should serve God and be examples of godliness with regards to submitting to governing authorities.
Yet the war cry of those who have chosen to be defiant is that of “religious freedom”, even though this has nothing to do with religious freedom. No one is taking away the freedom to worship and serve God. Serving God is much larger than meeting for a service to sing songs and a listen to a preacher deliver a sermon.
Real service to God is reflected in how we live in every arena of life, and when God’s people are equipped with wholesome and sound doctrine, they will response in times like these in a manner which honors God. If there were ever a time to show the world the love of Christ, that time is now. There are many ways in which christians can reflect the love of Christ to the world. Being defiant and putting people at risk is not one of them.
I recently watched a video of a European minister accusing his fellow ministers of being “sissies” and “pansies” who have been “neutered” because they had decided to use caution by cancelling in person worship services. There was absolutely nothing godly in making such nasty accusations.
This same minister also“predicted” America will be minimally affected by the coronavirus. His prediction has already been proven false, as the coronavirus has taken more precious lives in the United States than were lost by the terrorist attacks of 911.
At a time when people need hope and real leadership, why are some in ministry saying such things? Why are so many like this minister defying directives from local governments which are simply given to keep people safe? I think the answer to that is obvious. Promotion of oneself, rather than Christ, leads to bad judgment void of sound doctrine.
The minister mentioned above went on to say, “God is a very simple being to figure out.” He said this in context to promoting his reckless view of faith, but true faith in God is not reckless. It is balanced with wholesome doctrine, as given by the apostle Peter at the beginning of this post.
Consider his comment in view of the apostle Paul’s view of God.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 11:33-36
Paul stood in Awe of the complexity of God whose ways are past finding out!
Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9
Consider also the words of the Preacher, (most likely King Solomon) “I saw every work of God, and that a man is unable to comprehend the work that is done under the sun. Despite his efforts to search it out, he cannot find its meaning; even if the wise man claims to know, he is unable to comprehend.”~ Ecclesiastes 8:17
The truth is, the European minister cited above is simply promoting himself and not God.
Another minister, who is the pastor of a megachurch in Florida and who goes by the title “apostle” encouraged his parishioners to attend (in person) church services rather than to heed the warnings from officials regarding large gatherings. He is cited as having said, “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not.”
Rather than teaching his congregation to be considerate of their fellow man and to think of others by cooperating during a crisis, this so-called “apostle” attacked some of his own congregation, accusing them of fear for taking precaution and staying away.
He went on to say, “If we die, we die for Christ. If we live, we live for Christ, so what do you lose?” This is not the view of a true shepherd. It is the view of a cult leader.
I could go on as there are many examples of ministers who have chosen to display reckless doctrine which is putting others at risk, but the good news is there are many who have chosen to use wisdom, and that is what times like these call for. We need wisdom and good judgment, coupled with mercy in the fear of God.
We are to fear God and reverence him because we do not always know what God is doing. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and if we are going to honor him we must walk humbly before him and compassionately towards others.
People are dying, and many are in dire straits as uncertainties abound. As Christians, we must to be considerate and compassionate, while being people of wisdom and grace, and God will be glorified through us if we do so.