Should a church continue to open its doors for inside assembly when ordered not to during the current corona virus crisis? Is the government taking away our right to lawful assembly and our right to freedom of religion? Personally, I think not. Is conforming to the government mandates (issued for the safety and protection of our society) rebellion against God? Of course not.
Some are using examples of the early Apostles being told NOT to preach in the name of Jesus, and suffering beatings, imprisonment, and even death for continuing to preach in Jesus' name. But no one is telling anyone NOT to preach in the name of Jesus. No one has been ordered not to preach at all. I've heard more preaching on social media lately than ever before, not only from pastors, but from many who have been emboldened by the Spirit to speak out and encourage others!
Personally I don't like not getting to go to church. I don't like not getting to preach in churches. But because of the current crisis, I've preached to more people in more places than ever...right from my spare bedroom!
Does not getting to go to church (for a season) diminish the power of God? No! Can not getting to go to church drive God's people away from Him? No! From what I have seen and heard, more people are drawing closer to Jesus because of, and the midst of the situation. Paul said, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Romans 8:35) He also said, "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)
If and when our government comes down and tells us to close our doors to stop the spread of Christianity...that will be another story. If I am ever ordered not to preach Jesus, again, that's another story. But closing our doors during a crisis to stop the spread of a deadly virus is not the same. Remember, it's not just churches, but restaurants, theaters, venues, etc., that are being told to close.
I was raised not too far from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I've experienced the aftermath of several hurricanes. And in some of those cases, Marshall law and curfews were imposed. Why? To take away rights? No, but to protect people and their property from looters and physical harm. When conditions improved, we reverted back to our normal laws.
Love me while I say this, but there were many churches just drifting along in the stream of the status quo when all this broke a few weeks back. Having to close the doors for a season ought to make us Christians appreciate what we had, and eager to make it better when we can return. So between now and then draw closer to Jesus. Avail yourself to be prepared by Him to be turned loose by Him soon...on fire!
Listen to what Paul said. "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil." (Romans 13:1-3a).
And let me present a couple of more questions. Does closing the doors of our churches, in accordance with the authorities (to stop the spread) mean folks have no faith? No. There are lots of folks in all churches that have less faith than others. Some have none! Does it mean we're copping out on God? No. If we simply yield ourselves to Jesus, I'm talking about our entire lives, He will use us in supernatural, miraculous ways during and beyond this crisis. It won't matter whether we're in a church building or a tree house!
Make sure you are taking this crisis seriously. Yes, certainly the virus is something to be taken serious. But what I'm talking about are the effects it's having on our nation and the world. There is a lot more death than any of us wants to exist. The world economy (not to mention ours) is taking a beating. Take this time to pray...more than you ever have! Those who won't pray are not taking it seriously!
Finally, this crisis will end. And when it does end, I am confident that most of the world will know God intervened. Expect things not to be business as usual though. I'm expecting a much higher level of appreciation of the things we've given up during the crisis. I am believing that God's people will be stirred to a deeper commitment to Jesus. Many churches will be overflowing with folks who never went before!