In the midst of a global pandemic during which public religious services are being heavily reduced and even canceled, wouldn’t it be great to be affiliated with a religious movement in which, although supported by the church, devotional and instructional life was actually centered on the home? A movement that has invested enormously in electronic media, including films and the like? Media that can be safely used without any need to emerge from the safe confines of one’s own house?
During a time of worldwide contagion, a time in which people are being discouraged even from going out to shop for groceries more than they absolutely must, a time in which they’re being counseled to have enough food and medicine at home for as many as fourteen days — available for the possibility that they will come down with the ambient disease and effectively be quarantined — wouldn’t it be nice to have been a member of an organization that has taught emergency preparedness for decades? That has advised its adherents to have food and other supplies stored at home, lest they be caught unready for a crisis?
In a day when global markets are in upheaval, when stocks are plummeting, when supply chains are disrupted, when customers are staying home, when businesses are suffering and employment is endangered, when savings are at risk, wouldn’t it be reassuring to be a member of a religious organization that — even notwithstanding fierce criticism for doing so — has amassed a sizeable rainy day fund for just such eventualities? A fund that, even though it may or may not itself have been substantially reduced by plunging share prices, is still large enough to maintain that religious organization’s functions as far as they can be maintained through a crisis and to restore them to full health when the crisis has passed? A fund that, beyond mere maintenance, is also able to assist members of the organization, and even non-members? A fund that is adequate for a time when the needs of the people are not only great but, in fact, greater than normal? A fund that is able to meet a short-term crisis without putting the core long-term responsibilities of that religious movement at risk or allowing them to suffer damage that is difficult to repair in the future?
In a day when secular human institutions have been revealed as deeply vulnerable to an essentially invisible threat, wouldn’t it be nice to belong to an organization that is thoroughly in the world but emphatically not of the world? That teaches the central importance of family in this life but also affirms that family continues centrally important into the next? That places its hope in Christ, who has overcome the world?
I think that it would be very gratifying to belong to such a religious organization, one that has been prudently led and that has given, and followed, wise counsel for this life, one that promises an eternity of joy and peace to all those who have sincerely sought to do good.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalm 23)