Is Covid Still Keeping You Out of Church? It’s Time to Come Back

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Clay Center, Kansas – Jesus was like a celebrity-type figure to many of His day. Crowds gathered in the thousands to hear Him speak and do miracles. This attracted a wide array of people to come follow Him, along with the 12 disciples. One man in particular was a scribe, a highly educated teacher and copier of God’s Word. He randomly shouted out to Jesus in the midst of other people, “I will follow you wherever you go.” (Luke. 9:57) Jesus quickly responded saying, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Lk. 9:58)

Does not that sound like an odd response to a person who wants to follow Jesus? What was Jesus, the master communicator, saying? He was telling the scribe there is a cost to following Him. While the man may have been enamored by the celebrity of Jesus, Jesus highlighted the non-glamorous parts of His ministry, which the scribe never observed. For Jesus told him it was one of poverty, homelessness and rejection.

Why was Jesus saying this? He was not just sharing information about His ministry’s travel and lodging plans. Jesus was stating a condition that must be met to follow Him. And that condition is His Lordship. It must be believed in and submitted to, no matter the cost.

When March 2020 ushered in the Covid pandemic, it became a test for every church and Christian. The test became harder with the passage of time due to continual negative and discouraging news of the virus spreading, hospitalizations, deaths, new variants and the introduction of vaccines. Sweeping lockdowns and mandates came as a result, causing churches to shut down in person gatherings and people to stay at home.

Two years later, nearly 100% of churches are back to meeting in-person, that is good news. However, according to pollsters only around 75%-80% of Christians have come back. For those believers who have not returned, this may be a spiritual test about the Lordship of Christ.

For those of us who have repented of our sins and placed our faith in Him, He became not only our Savior, but Lord. We were bought by Him through His blood on the cross. As a result, we became His and no longer our own. This means we are expected to do what He says, which is our primary way of expressing our love for Him. He commands us by word and example to gather with other believers to receive teaching, have fellowship, take the Lord’s supper, pray, celebrate baptism, engage in ministry and worship together.

For nearly 2,000 years, millions of Christians have faced potential danger for doing this. This is something modern believers in western nations largely know little about due to our freedoms. Gathering as the church has rarely been risk free since its inception. Believers in the first century often met in homes partly because of rampant persecution. The smaller groups, privacy, lack of visibility to authorities made it safer, but still not without some threat of peril. For centuries the faithful in persecuted lands have gathered with full knowledge they could be harassed, arrested or killed. They have also gathered during war, in crime ridden neighborhoods, while facing sickness and disease and following the effects of natural disasters.

What compels Christians to assemble when there are threats to their safety? The Lordship of Jesus. Like the scribe that shouted out to Jesus that he would follow him no matter what; words are easy to say. But the true test of the Christian is found in the dark valleys of suffering and trials of all sorts.

Fellow believers, it is time to get back to church. Accept there is risk, but place your faith in Christ as you go. When you do, remember the suffering and death He courageously endured for you. And do not forget some of His last words before He ascended back into heaven, “I am with you always.” (Matt. 28:20) In Christ, you are never alone.

A prayer for you - “Lord God, I pray this column will reach those who have not gone back to church since the start of Covid. Whatever their fears or concerns, bring them to place their trust in you and overcome all obstacles to gather again with their fellow believers. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Clint Decker is President of Great Awakenings and Speaking Truth is a nationally syndicated column. Please share your comment with Clint at cdecker@greatawakenings.org and follow his blog at clintdecker.blogspot.com.

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