Updated: Nov 18
(Video included below article)
After nearly two months of only being able to gather with our church via live stream, I’m thankful that this past Sunday, our church family was able to gather in person, once again. While being careful to maintain the CDC’s social distancing recommendations, it was still amazingly refreshing to gather again with God’s people. I am sincerely thankful to be in the state of Florida where our governor seems to understand that the gathering of a local church is an “essential service.”
My heart is prayerful for my Christian brothers who have higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in their area, and I am also prayerful for churches in areas where government officials are using this pandemic as a political weapon to minimize the importance of the ministry of local churches.
Because of COVID-19, the debate rages in some state and federal courts concerning whether or not the church is an “essential service.”
On one level it’s laughable that this discussion even exists. It’s laughable because the church is God’s institution. He “purchased it with His blood,” (Acts 20:28) and “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Of course it’s an “essential service.“
Allow me to give you two reasons why.
First, consider the church’s effect on a culture. Remove the church, the people of God, from any society and you’ll have rapid moral decay, and debilitating darkness. Jesus taught us this in His famous Sermon on the Mount. He instructs His disciples to be both salt and light.
As the church takes a salty-stand against biblically defined immoral behavior, that salt allows a society to avoid complete moral decay. The church pushes back against a society’s propensity towards sinful perversion, and therefore has a preserving effect on their culture.
While at the same time, the church is also the “light of the world,” offering to a society the avoidance of debilitating eternal darkness. Thus, the church is therefore used by God to illuminate the narrow way to life everlasting in Christ Jesus.
So, the church is essential because of its effect on a culture, but it’s also essential because of its impact on Christians.
When a church gathers, Christians receive a fresh perspective of the nature of God and His purpose for our lives. As we sing Bible-based hymns, as we study His Word through Spirit-filled preaching, and as we benefit from the fellowship and spiritual gifts of other believers, the redeemed church is constantly reminded that our lives are not primarily about us, but they are about Him. (Romans 12:1-2)
It all comes together. The hymns, the preaching, and the fellowship all serve to regularly remind Christians to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ.” And, that regular reminder is essential to help Christians detox from the “sin and weight which doth so easily beset us.”
Furthermore, the church is essential because it provides Christians with a healthy community of togetherness and partnership. People from various backgrounds and who are at different stages of life have been adopted into the family of God and have “all things common.”
The church is essential because it provides Christians with accountability through loving church discipline.
The church is essential because it provides Christians with a regular spiritual strengthening, and a biblical equipping to continue to minister to our needy culture.
Whether any state or federal government consents or not, the church is essential because of its needful effect on the culture, and its invigorating impact on Christians.
After all, as I said before, the church is essential because its God’s institution, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Dear Christian, let that truth strengthen your faith so that you to continue to “Run with patience the race that’s set before us,” and continue “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
SFL VIDEO Content
"Is the Church an ESSENTIAL Service?" - Pastor James C. Johnson
This devotion was written by Pastor James C. Johnson. These devotionals are being published throughout this pandemic in an effort to further strengthen the faith of our NorthStone church family. Feel free to comment below to offer your feedback about today's devotion.