“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
Cavalier! Irresponsible! Crazy! Nose-picking Moron! Those are just some of the adjectives that people used to describe me this past week because I refused to cancel church services in the light of the corona-virus outbreak. A pastor, who I thought was a friend, said, “James, it is extremely stupid and reckless of you to continue with church services.” Then he added, “Don’t you know one out of every four people are going to die from this virus?” I was shocked by his statement and asked, “Where did you get that statistic?” He said, “From Facebook…” Are we really starting to believe everything someone posts on social media?
Perhaps I am being naïve. I have never had to pastor a church through a pandemic before. It seems no matter what I do, some people will be upset. If I close the church, people will say I should have stayed open. If I stay open, people will say I should have closed. Changes beyond our control are forcing me to wrestle with difficult circumstances that have no easy solutions. Answers only raise more questions.
Last Tuesday, Kansas Governor, Laura Kelly, issued Executive Order 20-04 which prohibited mass gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, “religious gatherings” are exempt from this order as long as “attendees can engage in appropriate social distancing.” I told one of my deacons that we could have church if we engaged in social distancing. He shouted, “Glory! Halleluiah! I don’t have to sit by my wife!”
Anyway, as I have thought about it, I have realized that only atheists and the devil will be happy with church closing. I don’t have a friend in either of those camps. So, after much prayer and consideration, I have decided to continue having Sunday Services. I fully understand that government officials are telling us the circumstances are bleak. However, if you think federal, state, or local governments can deliver you from anything, just consider the current situation. Politicians are ineptly trying to solve issues that God can solve if we would just call on Him.
Am I too naïve? Well, have you asked Jesus Christ into your life? If not, don’t knock it till you try it.
The point is: Thank God, Jesus didn’t engage in social distancing. God entered into history in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus went to an old rugged cross where He bled and died for your sins. He was buried and laid dead in a tomb for three days and nights. But He rose from the dead. He defeated, death, hell, and the grave. And if you turn from your sins and turn to Christ as Savior and Lord, you can have eternal life. You can have a peace that passes all understanding. You can have a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind.
I believe that people need Jesus now more than ever. So, I will continue to preach Jesus. This Sunday in church, I will preach Jesus. Until the Lord comes back or calls me home, I will preach Jesus. Even if the government declares martial law (which they might) and locks me up, I will preach Jesus. Even in jail, I will preach Jesus.
I wonder if the jail guards know the words to “There’s power in the blood.”
Don’t keep a social distance from Jesus. Come to Christ today and be saved.
James Collins is the Senior Pastor at First Southern Baptist Church. Find out more about First Southern at the webpage www.fortscottfsbc.com.