Any time we hear a sermon like the one I delivered last week, we (me included) are bound to hear one thing and, because we are struck by it, don’t hear the next thing. Nothing wrong with that – it’s human nature. So I thought I would reiterate a few comments from Sunday:
We are all bound by Scripture to harbor no resentment or grumbling in our hearts, about each other’s medical decisions, past, present or future. We all have our own unique matrix of factors that go into our every decision these days. I presented some information last week, but I trust you to consider that information with your own eyes, and I expect you to vet and filter that information through your own matrix of “risk factors”. I don’t begrudge you that, nor should anyone else. In fact I expect it of you.
I and the elders expect, because Scripture expects, everyone to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you. Think about that – how has God welcomed you and me, in Christ? With our lots and lots of foibles, wrinkles, failures and sins. Lots of insanity. We’re all returning prodigal sons before Him. Thus there must be no different “camps” or “teams” in the church. While there are differences of opinion, we must not resemble a foosball table, with the red “punch the virus in the face” team, whipping the ball against a “take the science on its face” team. Not on paper, and not in reality, and not even in “tone”. By “tone”, I mean down to even the tone of voice and the words we use with each other. It’s not for us to judge another Man’s servant – Romans 14:4, and following:
4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
In Christ, we really are free to love God, and do what we want. Do what seems best to you, before the face of God, and you will do well, beloved. Either way, you “win” – for either way, we are the Lord’s, for whom He died and is raised.
I understand the governor announced new possible lockdowns today. As of right now, we have not changed anything in our approach to Sunday – neither towards the more strict, nor towards the more loose. But the elders will of course continue to observe and talk and we will communicate with you as quickly and widely as we can, should anything change.
We’re all in a vise right now. Regardless of the reason or the cause, the battle against fear or anger can be fierce. If you are in the midst of that fight, I implore you, don’t fight alone. Call up a trusted friend or someone new, and ask how you can pray for them. Share a Scripture, for
Romans 15:4 . . . whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
And then ask how you can pray for them. All of this so that
5 …the God of endurance and encouragement [may] grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Even during COVID. In all this the gospel is our ever-present guide and center:
7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.