Here We Go Again
I know COVID-19 is real! My wife and I both were hospitalized with the virus, but it affected us in different ways. Hers was intestinal, mine respiratory. We’ve known of several others who have been hospitalized, remained seriously ill at home for weeks more, and yet have recovered. And yes, unfortunately, we know of all too many whose physical abilities succumbed to the virus. Presently, the state of Indiana is struggling once more with a rise in cases and deaths. It is a serious threat with serious consequences if left unheeded!
As precautions, schools are again sending students home for quarantine, and additionally mandating masks. Businesses are mandating vaccinations for continued employment. Medical professionals are urging both vaccinations and precautions, and of course the medial is guiding the public to comply as well. Indeed, the danger is real, and the pleadings are urgent! Yet, some ignore the warnings, and others who fear them so much they hibernate from the rest of the world including family!
Then there are those of us who have read and studied the matter carefully. We’ve suffered the infection, accepted the treatment, including the vaccine, and are now challenged with the cry, “There is another strain of the virus.” Fear is a powerful motivator and if scared enough, even those whose physical defenses have been maximized, and whose faith is undaunted – even these can be shaken into submission of things they generally would oppose.
Are we to take precautions? Certainly! But are we to fear so greatly as to weaken our faith and allegiance to the God of heaven? Certainly NOT! I muse on whether we’ve truly learned from last year’s debacle. The canceling of services resulted in “virtual worship,” which diminished the dignity and reverence of souls edifying one another in songs, hymns, spiritual songs, prayer, study, communion, and giving. Reports of “worshipping in pajamas with a cup of coffee in hand” were common. Such attempts at assisting brethren in a continuance of Bible study and learning from sermons soon became another mode of “entertainment” rather than edification. Surely the Devil rejoiced at the depletion of once loyal and devoted souls to God! Yet today there exist numerous churches of Christ who have yet to return to multiple services on the Lord’s Day and additional studies through the week; a practice of consistent faithful assembling for which they had been well known for years!
“But this is what the government, medical professionals, and others have demanded we do.” Since when does the Lord’s Kingdom, the church, take its marching orders from man? Even a casual reading of the book of Acts will reveal the earliest brethren suffered severe penalties for assembling as God ordered. The threat of death was just as powerful a motivator then as it is now, but I note from Revelation, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11) It appears many have a different viewpoint of “faithful” in this present world!
Sickness does happen, and many realize that if we’re too sick to be in the services of our Lord, we’re too sick to be anywhere else. (Sadly, a sickness that keeps many at home from services isn’t bad enough to keep them from work or school – just the assembling of the saints! Again, it makes one ponder the degree of “faithfulness” proclaimed by some souls.) We’ve come to understand hindrances from assembling. Yet I muse if these or similar “hindrances” would have stopped the earliest brethren in the kingdom of Christ from assembling. Frankly, I doubt it. My observation over the past fifty-plus years is that more and more brethren seek ways to NOT assemble themselves (compare Hebrews 10:25), rather than fighting through the opposition’s attempts to keep us from doing what God said to do! It appears we’re more afraid of offending others than being offended for our stand for truth and righteousness. Where are the strong, the dedicated, the loyal to Christ? Have we surrendered to the fears of the flesh instead of standing in fear of God’s eternal punishment?
Less than a year ago, our faith was challenged severely. Now, an even stronger attempt is made upon our faith. Not only has COVID-19 reared its ugly head again, but our nation is also facing an unknown, yet not unexpected onslaught of terror, the likes of which we have never experienced in our existence. Yes, we have a right to be scared – we should be! But if our FAITH is what it should be – STEADFAST AND UNMOVABLE (1 Corinthians 15:58), the physical fear will be much abated! (Hebrews 13:5 – 6) May I suggest therein is the GREATEST problem – our faith? It is not strengthened by prayer alone, nor by attendance alone – but rather the word of God (Romans 10:17).
No, I’m not trying to run foolishly headlong into the face of danger! But neither am I willing to bow to the influence of those who fear men more than God! (Galatians 1:10) Yes, I trust doctors – they’ve studied the human body and its needs more than I have. Yet frankly and without apology, I trust God more, and have read and studied carefully what He says my SOUL needs – and those needs are not met by complying with the notions of man while ignoring His commandments by which my eternity is determined! We used to understand the “fire and brimstone” of preachers who asked, “If we were faced with immediate death, how many of us would be leaving the building alive?” But nowadays, we fear much less … and for only earthly gain!
Still, “Here we go again” with the “What should we do?” questions. The answer is plain, simple, and complete for the FAITHFUL ones. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) “Add to your faith virtue … knowledge … temperance … patience … godliness … brotherly kindness … charity.” (2 Peter 1:5 – 10) [One ponders if some are satisfied with five of the seven being enough. It isn’t in God’s sight!] “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) [We might have some of the fear figured out, but few understand the trembling!] We could go on, but the point is made: Our faith is being challenged more severely than ever before – and all too many will fail to meet the challenge!
Jesus asked a question at Luke 18:8: “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” What is the answer to His question? Certainly, He will find faith … but will He find it IN ME … IN YOU? If not, why not? “Faithful unto death” means precisely what it says! “But I don’t want to die by disease.” Who does? Yet again, it isn’t how you die, but rather ARE YOU READY TO DIE?
Maybe that’s the problem; souls just aren’t ready for the Judgment! They want to live here a little longer, enjoy this earth life instead of longing for heaven! That isn’t the way Paul looked at it (2 Timothy 4:1-8; Philippians 1:21). I muse on this reality: We all need to increase our faith, and we need to do so daily! Since faith without works is dead (James 2:17), we need to express our faithful works of obedience daily … not just when “convenient” for us. This challenge isn’t a matter of strength of the flesh; it is a matter of strength of the soul! I muse on how strong we are for our Lord’s cause!