We recently received the following question from a friend of this ministry: “Is it biblical to close the churches in a ‘crisis’ such as we are facing?” She added: “I’m sorry, that was blunt! It is an honest question, not meant as an attack or condemnation on anyone! I am struggling with the idea that so many churches are closing their doors at the “recommendation” of our government. The apostles not only went to prison but to death for The Word. I am struggling for understanding and appreciate any biblical perspective you could offer, if you have a moment? Thank you for your time! God bless!”
We could also discuss things constitutionally but at this time the focus of the question is Biblically. However, one thing should be noted; if there is a constitutional basis for closing private businesses and private schools, they have a constitutional right to close churches as well. As the American Center for Law and Justice writes:
“The watchword here is neutrality: Is the government being neutral toward religion, or is the government instead imposing special burdens on religion and its adherents? So long as the government maintains a neutral approach, addresses an objectively serious threat, and does not use that threat as a pretext for targeting disfavored religious entities and adherents, then churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious bodies cannot claim unconstitutional discrimination.”
So the question still remains: Does the government have a constitutional right to call for the closure of private industries, businesses, schools, and organizations? That we leave for another article and another time.
So, back to the Bible, our friend’s question raises more questions than it does find satisfactory answers. The Bible doesn’t directly speak to shutting down church services for a week or two or longer. Some questions that accompany this issue are: Why are we closing? If we are closing early on in this pandemic, as it worsens, how do we justify reopening until it’s over (some estimations have been upwards of 18 months). How long is too long? By closing, are we putting a premium of concern on the body over the concern and well-being for the soul? These are questions that each local body must prayerfully and searchingly ask. When it is all said and done, it is God that we must please and Him we must glorify.
In Hebrews 10:25 we read: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Even in the midst of Christian persecution, the believers would meet “daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:42)
Regardless of whether our main meeting place of worship is open or closed we need to be more focused on Jesus Christ in our own personal lives and more intentional in daily exhorting one another on to holiness, compassion, growth, love, and good works. Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith, with assurance knowing that Christ is our only Hope. These, in their own right, are a big part of worship, and also come from Hebrews 10.
We must personally take all precautions that we can so as to not be an infected carrier; but most importantly, we must be a carrier of Jesus Christ—full of mercy and compassion and truth—to the unbeliever and believer alike. If our bodies are the temple of the living God—and they are—then let us be a house of worship wherever we are and whomever we are with.
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