My dear friends, I pray that you both understand and hear my heart in this.
I have a great love for the local church and my deepest desire is to see her flourish and grow even in the difficult times we are in. That said, I believe we are experiencing the affects of a very serious issue that has some very serious consequences.
Those of you that are continuing to gather with the body, even in the midst of this difficult circumstance, I both thank you and encourage you to continue in this. It honors God and shows love to the people around you. For those that have chosen to stay home, for whatever reason that may be, I would humbly ask you to consider my plea with an open heart. This is in no way meant to demean, but rather to warn and encourage.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. - Heb 10:23-25
Historically, the Church of Jesus Christ has seen many obstacles. From its conception, it has been faced with many reasons to not gather on the Lord’s day. Persecution, pestilence, plague, and even threat of death have all been seen in our history, present time, and will continue to be seen in our future. Throughout all these obstacles one truth has been remained constant, the Church has gathered. We have gathered with one another because we know that in gathering there is strength, safety and commitment to one another and to Christ. We gather in spite of the world because we know what we gather for is worthy of being placed above everything else. We gather because we are commanded to do so. We gather for the sake of our family. We gather because we love our neighbor. We gather to praise and bring honor to our gracious Lord and King. There is no calling greater than that.
I would humbly ask you to consider something. If you are living life somewhat normally (going to work, getting groceries, post office, hardware store, etc), but you are not gathering with the Saints on the Lord’s Day due to Covid-19, I would lovingly encourage you to consider that at this point, it has crossed the line of simply being carful and fallen into the realm of disobedience. I understand this may come across as holier than thou or even worse, unloving. Again, I pray you hear my heart in this and know that my desire is only for the health of the Church and the good of its people. This has in no way been written in hatred or anger. It is a desperate plea for you to understand the danger that we are facing and how simple the remedy truly is.
I would lovingly encourage you to consider this. If you will wear a mask in order to make money for your family (a truly worthy and biblical conviction), but you will not wear one to worship our Savior, there is a great problem. If you will take trips into your community or make a stop at your local grocery store, but will not gather with your family on the Lord's Day to worship our King, I believe there may be a deeper issue residing in the heart. I do not believe this is an over simplification of the situation. You must be willing to ask yourself, "how deep does your love and affection go for Christ and His people?" You must be willing to get uncomfortable with the answers to that question. Are you willing to risk something for that affection? Ridicule? Sickness? Death? The Church in history has given a resounding "yes and amen" to this question. Will our answer be different?
There may come a time when we are called to give everything we have for the sake of Christ, His Gospel and His people. If the Lord has seen fit to give us a (very light) trial run in this conviction, I believe we are failing horribly. The community of believers is in desperate need. It is in desperate need of you. That's right. The body of Christ needs you. The body hurts when you are not present. It is not complete. It cannot function in the way it was meant to if part of it is missing. See 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.
Dear Christian, wear a mask if you like. Social distance in the building if you prefer, but please gather. Gather in person. It has been too long without each other and we need community now more than ever. Let the affection you have for the Lord and His people drive you into the doors of your church. Gather with God's people and honor Christ!