Yesterday Sacramento County shifted its strategy of dealing with the spreading coronavirus, from one of containment to one of management. Essentially, they advise: if you have coronavirus, limit your social contact. If you do not have it, but have been exposed to someone who does have it, then take precautions – see below, and see the other post, “Coronavirus Update” – but don’t quarantine yourself. So then, Grace Church will carry on all normally scheduled events. We simply ask everyone to follow the CDC’s suggested guidelines.
But the question coronavirus presents for our church is: what if, by government decision, we could not meet, for some extended period of time, in groups larger than, say, 12 people? As has happened in China – ironically, not for disease, but for religious crackdown? Would our church grind to a halt? Are we only what we are on Sunday?
What we are together on Sunday is incredibly important. The church gathered glorifies God, as we come together to be encouraged for endurance and praise Him as with one voice (Rom. 15:6). The church glorifies Him as the church gathers around Him.
And yet, that is not the only way, nor should it be the only way the church glorifies God. We are designed to operate like – forgive the metaphor – a good virus. One that produces salt and light in the world – that brings good and preserves good. This happens, fundamentally, as the gospel is spread, from one person to another – thus the “virus” metaphor.
We see this in 2 Timothy 2, verses 1 and 2. Paul encourages Timothy to be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, v. 1. Then he instructs him to pass it on, v. 2 – to find other faithful people who will receive the gospel intact, and pass it on, intact.
We exist to be links in that chain. “Patient Zero” of this “virus” were the apostles, including Paul, and they received the gospel directly from Jesus. They passed it on to others, who received it and passed it on – unmodified – to yet still more. We exist today on the “live end” of this chain of gospel transmission. Don’t break the chain, Paul says.
So no, what we are on Sunday is not all we are. The gospel chain must be passed over dinner tables, in our small groups, in “spiritually significant conversations”, from one Christian to another person – Christian or non-Christian.
The question: where are you on this chain? Coronavirus is a call – be strengthened by the gospel, and pass it on! What’s your next step?