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Every Sunday morning, Christians across the nation have had to adjust to a new normal. Rather than jumping out of bed and driving to church, people now tune into the livestream while eating pancakes in their pajamas. Since the sudden growth of the COVID-19 pandemic, new social distancing regulations have limited large gatherings—meaning limited church services.
However, while most churches have opted to obey the government’s wise laws, one Florida church completely disregarded it. The Tampa Bay Times reported that Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, leader of his megachurch in Hillsborough County, was arrested by local authorities on March 30. He was charged with “unlawful assembly” misdemeanors as well as “violation of public health emergency orders,” according to Fox News. He is not the only pastor to continue services during quarantine. One church in Newbury Park, California hosted communion for their parishioners this week, according to NBC.
Opposing the newly instilled laws can lead to trouble. Christians are called to be model citizens, obeying the laws of the land as long as they don’t contrast with God’s laws. Churches should set a peaceful example by obeying government regulations and maintaining unity. Not only does this display respect for authorities, but it is also a way to love our neighbors by keeping them safe.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR
Social distancing laws have been created to protect the public health. As of April 5, there have been over one million cases reported across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. Each day, that number grows. So far, social distancing has proved to be very effective. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has explained that there is now a “glimmer” of success as a result of social distancing, according to Business Insider.
Our love for others should be our biggest motivation to remain socially distant. In the case regarding the Florida pastor, state attorney Andrew Warren said, “Loving your neighbor is protecting them, not jeopardizing their health by exposing them to this deadly virus,” Relevant Magazine wrote. It’s vital to help our friends and family avoid the virus by evading it ourselves. Churches should seek to protect their congregation, thus it is imperative that they obey social distancing laws.
LOVE YOUR LEADERS
Some might argue governments are restricting religious freedom, by limiting all gatherings and limiting our opportunities to worship together. But these regulations won’t last long. Right now, their goal is to save your life.
Churches set an example for their congregation, even for the world around them. In Romans, Paul exhorts the believers to honor the government. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established,” he writes in Romans 13:1. God has selected each and every authority figure we have—both in the state and federal government. Churches must respect and honor governmental authority because it sets a God-honoring precedent for the world to witness.
LOVE THE CHURCH
It’s important to remember what the church actually is—the church is a body of believers. Even if we cannot gather physically, we can unite their hearts in pursuit of the Lord. God is limitless. Christians do not have to be in church to worship God, they can do it just as well in their homes! Remember—this is merely for a season. Once these regulations are lifted, it is important to rejoin your congregation. Don’t get too comfy in your pajamas.
On Instagram, it’s beautiful to see those who tune in to various church services, sharing pictures of their television screens or laptops as they worship the Lord at home. So many churches have found ways of live streaming services, reaching more people than ever before with the gospel.
God is working in miraculous ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it may be one of the most difficult seasons in your life, don’t forget the importance of following the safety guidelines and continuing to worship God. New COVID-19 regulations have shut down churches—but not God.