We have been in lockdown since March 25th, 2020. And now we are talking about unlock 1.0, unlock 2.0 and unlock 3.0. Most church members are waiting for the resumption of their church services.
Not everybody is equally eager though. Some people are fearful. Others are displaying no fear. At the surface it may appear that those who are fearful do not have enough faith while those who do not display fear have faith in God. Is it that black and white? I think not.
I think that there are three kinds of people in any church membership. There are those who are fearful, those who are carefree and those who are careful.
- The fearful may be identified as the ones who are afraid to resume church services as soon as possible. They may not even be satisfied with the provision of hand sanitizers and thermal screening and the wearing of masks.
- The carefree are the ones who may be eager to gather again with the church but are not careful about their faith and practice. Their carefreeness can be seen in different ways. But an easy way of identification is lack of ‘hygiene’ as defined by the Healthcare community. They do not know why everyone is making such a big deal of hygiene practices – washing of hands, covering our mouths and faces, the lockdown. They are therefore careless and as such a potential threat to the church community and their contacts. Do not get me wrong… These people are not filthy. They just do not care much for the hygiene guidelines issued.
- Within this category there are two kinds of the carefree. The first kind is the hypersensitive person. This person is upset about the lockdown, the rule to wear masks, to be stuck at home. The anger may be caused due to loss of job, loss of income or some form of loss. Such a person finds the pandemic to be a nuisance.
- The second kind is the insensitive person. This person is not sensitive to the struggles of the world around him during the pandemic. This person is glad that there was a lockdown. Working from home was a mini vacation. This person used the time to enjoy his accumulated wealth and even flaunted it online. Such a person is unperturbed by the fact that people around him are losing jobs, lives or loved ones.
- The careful are the ones who recognize that there is a threat of infection, care must be taken to prevent communicating the infection and prevention is good. However, they also would love to gather soon. They recognize that God is sovereign over every sub-atomic particle in the universe and therefore trust God’s providence amid this pandemic as well. I am thankful for these mature Christians who genuinely believe ‘to live is Christ, to die is gain…’
Friend, your first step is to self-diagnose what category you fall under. Perhaps it may be wise for you to talk to another church member to help identify where you fall. In order to help you diagnose yourself, I offer some more information.
Some of the fearful are may be struggling with understanding God’s sovereignty. They are trying to control their environment. Some may be concerned that a loved one may be severely affected if they get infected. They are trying to be protective. Others are concerned about how the pandemic is affecting their livelihood. They do not want the pandemic to prolong so desire more caution. There are more possible causes for the fear, but they are all legitimate struggles.
My real concern for you is that your fear is resulting in anger – hidden or manifested. And your fear reveals a prayerlessness in your life.
You are eager to rejoin the church gatherings. You are not concerned about safety protocols that can save the life of the people coming to the church or their contacts. While you may not display fear, you are not genuinely concerned with loving your neighbor. This pandemic has been about you. Either displayed by your irritation or by your jubilation.
My real concern for you is that your carefreeness is resulting in selfishness – hidden or manifested. And your carefreeness reveals both prayerlessness in your life and lack of generosity. You desire worldly things and rely on riches.
You are eager to rejoin the church gatherings. You also realize that there is a danger of getting infected. More than these desires you realize that God is sovereign over all events. And you submit to his will. The pandemic for you has been a lesson. You have used the time to draw closer to God, to love your neighbor, to care for one another. Depending on your circumstances, you may be deciding not to immediately join the gathering or to join.
I am genuinely thankful for you.
Dealing with each other
The difficulty of resuming church services after the lockdown period is for members to recognize that there are diverse people in the church. The fearful need time and assurance before they can rejoin the services. The carefree should take time and provide assurance before they can rejoin the services. The careful will fall into those who can join and those who cannot based on their circumstances.
Each member should realize that there are different categories of members in their church. We must be patient with each other. The fearful must not be angry with the others for joining the services before they think it is safe. The carefree must not judge the fearful nor consider themselves as faithful. The careful must not judge the others but minister to others.
Whichever category you fall into, there will be the temptation to judge others, disagree with others and cause disunity in the church. I pray that we will give each other appropriate care so that we can all gather without any constraints and with great joy and celebration.