Maybe God Closed the Churches
Hear me out.
Let’s let the governors and the mayors and all the other public officials off the hook for a minute and just consider the question:
What if God closed the churches?
If you are part of one of the major mainstream denominations, or non-denominations of the reformed variety, you believe in the sovereignty of God. It’s a pillar of your faith. You believe God’s will happens. It cannot be thwarted. Man cannot stay the hand of God. God’s will always come to pass, and as a corollary, whatever happens must be, in fact, God’s will.
Let’s suppose God looks down from heaven and sees the state of SO MANY American churches. He sees growth-hungry leaders, lavish building programs, savvy marketing schemes, personality cults, self-serving ministry agendas, fund raisers, and money spent on improvements that are just another means of marketing to boost the membership. An endless cycle of people and programs that claim to be one thing, but let’s be honest. They aren’t what they claim to be.
Let’s suppose God needed a break from all the noise.
What if God said to the churches,
Just go home. Stop trampling my courts. I am weary of your offerings and your worship teams and your sound systems and your light shows. The odorless wafting of your fog machines nauseates me. Do you really need to hear a fresh sermon every week? Have you already obeyed all the sermons you’ve heard? Do you really need a glitzy team of professionals to lead you in singing? Can you not just sing in the shower, from your heart, naked before me? That would be nice for a change.
Live your faith there where no one thanks you from the pulpit for your “ministry” or sees you up on the stage. Instead of clamoring to your panoply of fellowship groups and Bible studies, figure your faith out alone with me, in the intimate closet of private prayer. Instead of taking a class on how to be a good parent, stay home and spend some time with your kids and learn to listen without judgment. Instead of baking a fancy casserole for the church potluck, drop it off at your neighbor’s who’s quarantined in his apartment. Instead of serving in the church nursery, watch that other neighbor’s kids so she can go to the dentist or run an errand in peace. Stop scheduling, planning, organizing, and systematizing your Christianity for once and just be it. Quietly and closely, from home.
Learn to care about different things. Bigger things than what’s contained within the four church walls. Like orphans and refugees, the homeless, the poor, the oppressed. There’s a whole world out there. And it doesn’t need from you what you think it does. It needs something much more tangible, like loaves and fishes in the belly, a healing touch, a just judgment, a gentle word.
And don’t come back to the churches until you don’t need them anymore, and until they have discovered they really don’t need you. Because it’s not about you or them. Maybe then churches will be places where real Christians can gather and do the kinds of things Jesus would actually bother doing if he were here now.
Jesus said where just two or three are gathered in his name, he is there. And when Jesus wanted to fellowship with the Father, he went off away from the crowds to be alone. Caps on church attendance are a blessing, not a hindrance.
That is what I believe. Honestly and truly, with God as my witness, it’s what I believe.