Last week I left you off sounding the alarm that, if the church is to live a godly life in Jesus, it will suffer persecution. Then I compared the evangelical church’s persecution to a train wreck. That is, the evangelical church is a train wreck waiting to happen. So, if I sound like an alarmist, please understand, Jesus said we would be persecuted for His sake, because He was persecuted. And as for Paul? His whole life was one big object illustration of what happens when a person in Christ is fully committed to the Savior. You will be persecuted.
But there is another type of train wreck going on in the American evangelical church and I would like to share my thoughts on it in this article.
TRAIN WRECK #2—We Have Derailed the Train All By Ourselves! Without the enemy ever firing a shot at the train’s engine, we have purposely derailed the train all by ourselves. The fact is, government agencies at every level have used the fear of this pandemic, executive orders, and the news media to intimidate believers from carrying out their divine right of worship and freedom of religious expression.
EXAMPLE—Perhaps you doubt the accuracy of my statement, so let me give you one example. The National Christian Foundation (NCF) states that, 1 in 3 practicing Christians have stopped attending church during the covid-19 pandemic. They make an interesting statement that should be alarming to us. They state, “It should be noted, there is a segment of people who prior to the pandemic, were not attending church and are now attending online during the pandemic, but it is not a statistically significant sample.” Why is this alarming? Isn’t it a good thing that our “live stream” is reaching out to the unchurched? The problem is, if we are relying on our live stream to reach the unchurched audience with the Gospel, it is not the best use of our time. Meaning? The vast majority of people who are unchurched are not getting up at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning to hear the Word of God being preached. So, the question should be asked, who is watching? According to NCF, “Recent data shows that, of those who identify as Christian, agree strongly that faith is very important in their lives, and attend church at least monthly (prior to COVID-19)—more than half say they have streamed their regular church online within the past four weeks.” This NCF data was collected April through May of 2020. So, what is the problem? The problem is, more than half of those who would normally attend church on a Sunday morning, are now live streaming. Discounting the small percentage of those with pre-existing conditions that might physically put themselves at risk if they come to church in person, there is a great number of evangelicals who are staying home either out of fear caused by government intimidation, or media manipulation of the facts. But there is also another factor that I will put in the form of a question. Could it be the lack of attendance is from a real lack of passion for Christ and His church? I find it fascinating that the same people who will not dawn the doors of their local church family, think nothing of being out and about in our society for every purpose under the sun. Every week I ask our teens how school is going. Some continue to tell me that they go to school virtually, while others tell me they attend classes in person. For others it is a mixed schedule. When it comes to free time, many of us continue to frequent our favorite restaurant over the past eleven months. We visit our favorite shops, walking the isles as if life had no cares. Personally, I have enjoyed the extremely short waiting time to get a haircut from my favorite barber. Yet, the evangelical church in America has slipped into a spiritual coma and in doing so has derailed their own train. SHAME ON US!!! If the evangelical church in America is going to die, it shouldn’t be through the self-assisted train wreck. We ought to go down swinging. Or in this case, if the evangelical church train is going to be derailed, if we are going to be part of a train wreck, let it happen because we choose to stand for Jesus Christ publicly by worshiping in person, together, not necessarily six feet apart, not necessarily wearing a mask.
OUR SPIRITUALLY FALLEN SOCIETY, INCLUDING THE GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE TO DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO REGULATE THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH OUT OF EXISTANCE—Living godly lives in a fallen society was never meant to be easy. The fact is, it should be difficult, dangerous, and even at times deadly. The church in America needs to wake up and stop living life as though Covid-19 is running the train.
I am sure by now all of us have lost someone close to us from this virus. And I don’t want you to think that I am minimizing the seriousness of this pandemic. But at the same time, I refuse to live for Christ under a fallen society’s dictates, which includes a godless government and media systems that care more about ratings, money, and control over the people. The greatest need for this country, has always been its greatest need, that is, the need for Jesus Christ. And during a pandemic the church needs to come together, not virtually, but physically. We need more than ever, to come together, all of us, physically, like we did prior to the pandemic.
SO, WHICH TRAIN WRECK HAVE YOU CHOSEN? I choose Train Wreck #1, plain and simple. I want to live a godly life in front of those who don’t know Christ and if that means my belief system is an offence to them, so be it. I want to have physical, cooperate worship, in person, face to face. That doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind. If you are coming down with the symptoms of Covid-19, stay home, and get tested. If you feel more secure wearing a mask during worship service, by all means wear one. If you have serious pre-existing conditions then make sure you are taking as many precautions while out in the public. But please keep in mind, as a general rule, most church gatherings are not super spreaders of this virus. But if you are using this virus and all the government restrictions as an excuse to stay home and watch church service virtually, you are not doing worship as God commands in the Scriptures.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—wishing you Joy in Jesus!