There is a lot of reporting about churches being closed in different parts of the country, and at least one pastor in Florida being arrested for “endangering other people” (meaning his congregation) and disobeying social distancing laws and shut-down orders made by the governor.
People (at least older people) remember the accounts coming out of communist countries before and during the second world war. The books and accounts of Corrie ten Boom, movies like “Schindler’s List”, and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, and testimonies of other survivors are (or should be) indelible in our memories.
So while we complain about government over-bearing our right to assemble peacefully and grow tired of being “self-quarantined” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps we would do well to think of our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
The average size “church congregation” in China is about 10 people, and not more. More than that and they run great risk of being seen and / or reported for meeting. Anyone caught holding a church meeting in their house is usually imprisoned for at least 3 years. They may or may not return to their homes and families. Sometimes they just disappear. Sometimes their families are exiled so if they do get released from prison and return home, it may take months, even years to be reunited with their family.
Among Chinese believers, being sent to prison is considered to be the same as being in seminary. In prison faith is put to the greatest test with things like sleep deprivation, torture, beatings, all the while being told their God cannot save them and has abandoned them. But in prison they learn from God one-on-one.
Most church leaders – pastors – in China have been in prison at least once.
Western Christians, especially American Christians, are spoiled. We have heated and cooled buildings with soft seats, wide aisles, fancy furnishings, and coffee in the morning before church. We would never consider hiring an ex-convict to be a pastor, or anything else in our church. We complain when it’s too hot or too cold in the sanctuary or Sunday School, or when the music is too loud or the service runs “too long” because it puts us in line at the restaurant.
Frankly, it’s pathetic. I’m pathetic, because I’ve done all those things.
Time for a change.
Chinese Christians and Christians in other parts of the world don’t complain about the cold when they get to hold a real Bible in their hands. They don’t worry about what time the service should end when they’re being blessed by the spoken word, Spirit-filled worship, sharing it with other Christians, and gathering together as children of the Living God.
What do we have to complain about?? Jesus told us it does us no good to worry. Well, it does us no good to complain, either. When I start to whine and complain around my best friend, he looks at me and says “Why should it be easy for you??”
It’s time for American Christians to stop griping about every little thing that besets us, and take a stand and make every effort to help those around us, especially of the household of faith, and show our neighbors and the world that we trust in the Living God who is our Strength and Redeemer in every situation.
Virus or no virus.
Pray. Trust. Serve. Give.