Where is your line?
We opened our church this past Sunday and had a blessed service. The joy on the faces of those who came is an image I will cherish for the rest of my natural life. Some might say this was in defiance and in rebellion to our God given authority. I would like to tell you as briefly as possible my reasons for moving forward in this way. We are all struggling with what God would have us to do. I don't think anyone in this forum has any question about the choice between obeying God and man. Of course, we want to obey God. The question is: "What does He want us to do in this situation?" This is the same question generations of Christians have struggled with.
We have Bible examples of the Hebrew midwives in Egypt, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Jeremiah and many others who defied the orders of their respective sovereigns. Paul, the one who wrote Romans 13, demanded his rights as a Roman citizen. The question was debated in the early days of the American Revolution. Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and other men of God came down on one side while others defended the crown. During the Civil War Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson took up weapons and literally killed men in an effort to defend their freedoms. Each one of us has to find the line we will not cross.
I have chosen to follow the line of thinking which was clearly stated by Bonhoeffer in his treatise on Christological ethics under the Third Reich. He said, "We know that all the orders of the world only exist in that they are directed towards Christ; they all stand under the preservation of God as long as they are still open for Christ." When my governor chose to defy the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois constitution which afforded him 30 days of emergency power and continued to forbid us to meet together….After we went with him the second mile ( one month beyond his limited power), I contacted legal council to find out what the law actually read. My legal council advised me to push back because Gov. Pritzger has only one third of the governing power in our state. A county board member and a member of the legislative body in our state attended our first service. The representative is part of one third of our governing body. The court system is the other third. They were put in place so that a renegade executive could not trounce on our rights. In this case I do not believe I am going against God given authority.
I spent some time in prayer and fasting looking for direction from the Lord, and He directed me to Luke 13:31-35. Jesus was told that if He didn't leave Jerusalem that Herod would find Him and kill Him. To which Jesus replied, "....Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and tomorrow and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and tomorrow, and the day following..." I believe we must have our assembly. Assembly is in the very definition of the church. Assembly is what we do. I know that we have live streaming options and that is fine for a limited amount of time, but the body needs to assemble or it can not accomplish it’s God given tasks. We must do what we have been called to do and “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together” ( Hebrews 10:25).
In light of safety measures, we established 12 protocols that will keep us within the social distancing guidelines. We reduced all of our services. Only one service on Sunday, and a prayer service on Wednesday evening. We limited the number that can come into the main auditorium with proper distancing between rows, and set up other overflow rooms with live streaming options. Our doormen with gloved hands are responsible to open the doors for everyone. No handshaking, hugging, or congregating in places where the 6 feet distancing would be violated. Worshipers are instructed to remain in their seats at the end of the service until they can be dismissed by row from back to front. Even with these restrictions it was apparent that worshiping together was so much more meaningful than the live streaming options we have provided. The Lord was definitely moving in the service. Joy was overflowing in our hearts.
I found my line. Where is yours?