Do we open our churches or do we close our churches? Do we obey God, not man, or do we obey the governing authorities? Well, the Bible tells us to do both. What’s the best answer and what’s the best witness in these tough times? I’m Joel Fieri and this is What You’ve Been Searching For. Stay tuned, let’s talk about it.
In response to last week’s podcast, where I told my COVID-19 story about how I contracted the virus on a trip, I was sick for a couple of weeks but not really that sick and now I’m fine. I came through it just fine, and I questioned our need to live in fear of this virus. In the feedback I got from last week’s podcast, a few people stressed to me the severity of the effects of the virus, how many people have died, how many people have lost loved ones, how many people have been very sick and how overwhelmed our medical facilities and medical people are during this pandemic. I see that, and I believe that, but for every argument that can be made for the effects of the virus on people’s lives and the overwhelming nature of it, an equally strong argument can be made by the overwhelming effects of the lockdown on people, the lives lost, the lives affected, and the psychological, mental, spiritual and physical toll that this lockdown is taking.
This massive government overreach has affected the lives of many people that feel like they haven’t been heard. They feel like their stories aren’t told. They feel like their efforts to keep their lives together are somehow less significant than anybody else’s, and maybe even seen in a negative light, as seen somehow perpetuating the bad effects of the virus. They feel alone and they don’t feel acknowledged. That got me to thinking, and my thinking was triggered mostly by something that happened last week. Here, locally around our studio where we’re taping, there’s a lot of restaurants that are struggling to stay open. They are open now in peaceful protest of the county’s orders to stay closed or at least to be takeout only, but they’ve done the math, they can’t survive if they do that. So they’re opening their doors to have people sit and eat.
I’ve been doing my best to support them in this. Last week, I went to a local restaurant here. I was served by a young lady who was a little bit harried. She was overworked, staff was short, they were fairly busy. She gave me my food. After I ate my food, she came to give me my bill. She said, “Thank you for coming,” and I said, “No, thank you for being open. I’m going to do all I can to support you and all the other restaurants in that area that were trying to stay open.” Well, this previously unexpressive, stressed out young woman stepped back, brightened up with a big smile and said, “Well, thank you, hon. You can come back anytime,” I said, “I sure will.”
Other than that thinking it was great that a young woman called no guy like me hon, it really told me and opened my eyes to a possible witness field and harvest field that Christians haven’t been considering. When the Bible talks about Christian witness, there’s a couple of analogies that I think of, a couple of parables or analogies that it uses. One is good soil versus rocky soil or hard soil. Good soil that’s receptive to the gospel, rocky soil that rejects the gospel. The other is the harvest field. Jesus said, “Look at the fields. They’re ripe for harvest. Go into the world and sow the gospel.” That got me thinking, what is the good soil around us? What is the right harvest for us?
I’m not really sure how the people who disapprove of churches being open and disapprove of Christians standing up for their religious liberties, or even obeying God and not man, the people who will come against us on that, I’m not sure how ripe of harvest field that is. I’m not sure how receptive and good of a soil that is for the gospel. It may be good, it may be not, but I do sense that there is good soil and ripe harvest for the people who feel like they haven’t been heard after their lives are being so severely affected. They’re so overwhelmed by the effects of this government shut down, they don’t feel like they’re being acknowledged or advocated for.
What I was thinking and what I would challenge anyone out there to do, if you’re the leader of a church that is closed or an advocate of Christians closing churches and quarantining to show our communities how much we love them and to be a witness, here’s what I would like to see happen. I would like you to go to the local restaurant owners in your area, around your church, the ones who have counted on your members going to their restaurant after Sunday morning services or Wednesday night services, people who are counting on you to stay open, and I want you to ask them, “What’s the effect of our closing our church on you and your business and your family and your employees? How has our action affected you?”
I want you to go to members of your church who have lost loved ones to suicide or drug abuse or lack of medical care, or are worried about their children’s mental or emotional health, those who are worried about their own mental, emotional health, their own financial health, their own physical health, who are affected by these lockdowns every bit as much as other people are affected by the virus. I want you to ask them, “What has been the effect of our closing, our church?” How has that affected you?
Also, if you’re a pastor or a leader of a church that’s open right now, or an advocate of churches opening in defiance of the government officials, obeying God rather than men, I’d like you to do essentially the same thing. I’d like you to go to the businesses in your area, the restaurants and the gyms and the salons and all these other businesses that have been told they’re non-essential. I want you to ask them, “Okay, we’re standing up for our right to be open. We’re fighting these draconian government overreach orders to stay open. How can we help you do the same thing? We’re with you. We see you, we see what you’ve been going through.” Also, find the members of your congregation that are struggling also and say the same thing, “How can we help you?”
We need to see the people who have been affected by the lockdowns every bit as much as we see the people who have been affected by the virus. If we do that, if we make that effort, I think that would be good soil, that will be receptive to the gospel, and I think that would be a ripe harvest field. That’s my thoughts on following up from my last a podcast on COVID-19. It’s a major split in the Christian community right now, these two camps, these two thoughts. We need to get this right, folks, so we need to talk about it. If you think I’m wrong, if you think I haven’t considered something, if you have thoughts of your own on this, please share it with us in the comments. If you like what we’re doing here, if you like this conversation, please like and subscribe on YouTube. Go to Apple and Spotify, anywhere else you get your podcasts from. Most of all, go to christianpodcastcentral.com for more content like this. Thanks for listening.