As we are confident that you are aware, Monday Governor Northam issued a temporary stay at home order due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This order is similar to the recommendations made last Monday and continues the state’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 individuals. Obviously this order has had an impact on churches in our state assembling in the way that we traditionally have gathered for worship, study, prayer, and fellowship. We want to commend our small group leaders and all those who have continued to find ways to meet with one another, pray together, and encourage one another through the various digital resources available to us today.
The elder team would like to take an opportunity to point out some good that we see in the midst of this unique time we are living under and offer some suggestions for what we can do during this time.
What is God doing?
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Paul reminds us that even in the midst of frustration, fear, trials, suffering, yes and even in pandemics, social distancing, and stay at home orders.
God is renewing
For many of us, worship gatherings, small groups, Sunday morning serving, and other functions of the church assembly can become part of our routines. Sometimes we let the stress of getting our family out the door, finding the right thing to wear, setting up for services, serving in children’s ministry, or whatever it may be, cause gathering together with our church to feel like just something else we have to do during the week. In this time, God is creating a longing in His church for us to be together. People are missing one another in a way that we are not accustomed to. God is using that sense of loss to help to renew our desire for His church and our appreciation of need we have to worship, pray, study, and fellowship together. Ultimately the longing we experience during this time should also point us to a longing we have for Christ to make all things new. Do you find this longing to be true in your spirit?
God is exposing
Now that we are two weeks into “social distancing”, which will surely be the phrase of the year, we are experiencing the inability of many of the things that we normally run to for comfort and joy to last much longer than a moment. We are becoming sick of watching TV, the gyms are closed, comfort foods aren’t tasting as good, and we can’t even find a decent roll of toilet paper. God is using this time to expose our hearts. He is showing us the things that we lean on other than Himself to find comfort, joy, and security. Often times these are not “bad” things. They are good things that we have made God things. God desires us to look to Him and find our ultimate comfort, joy, and security in the Gospel of Jesus. What has God been exposing to you?
God is calling
God uses times of pain, confusion, and frustration to expose people’s need for reconciliation with Himself. This is a time when people are experiencing all of these emotions and more. These times lead to opportunities to share the hope of the Gospel with our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. God is calling people to Himself during this time. He is stripping away the things that distract people from their need for something (or someone) to heal the brokenness of their lives. Christians have the answer. We know the savior. In Romans 10:13-15, Paul writes, “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’” God is calling people to Himself, but they need someone to tell them the good news of Jesus. Who do you need to share the Gospel with during this time?
John Piper once said, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” There is much that God is doing during this time. These 3 are just a few. Read What Is God Up to with Corona? by ERIK RAYMOND for another perspective of what God is doing during this time. But now, let’s talk about what we can do.
What can we do during this time?
While we have heard much about the things that we cannot do during this time, there is still much that we can do as the church. The first five items listed below are five things that we can still do as the called-out church that are explicitly listed in the Governor’s executive order. The next are things that the church can do at any time. In fact, God may also be using this time to remind us of the important habits of grace that we often push to the side in our busy lives.
As outlined in Governor Northam’s March 30th executive order…
Taking care of other individuals
Providing immediate, tangible care for our friends, family, and neighbors demonstrates our love for them and our desire to do good for their bodies and souls. Mark 12:30 reminds us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength . . . and love your neighbor as yourself.” God’s command on our life leaves no room for hoarding or panic. Text, call, and video chat with others frequently and pray daily for people. Learn their needs. Make their well being your priority. Provide meals, mow lawns, tutor kids, write letters, find simple ways to make people smile, and share the hope of the Gospel.
Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise
Psalm 19:1 reminds us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” Slow… down…. Could it be that you have been too busy lately, to notice, hear, and savor creation singing God’s praise, revealing God’s beauty, and declaring God’s glory? This is a time to take walks with your family, wave at neighbors, plant that garden, start that running plan, go on that hike. It is also a time that you can coordinate some of these outdoor activities with a brother or sister from church or the lost neighbor that you’ve been looking for a way to connect with. Don’t waste your “quarantine”!
Traveling to and from one’s…place of worship…
While Mosaic does not have a physical building at this time to go to, it is within the parameters of the order to get together in a group of 10 or under to watch the online worship service, study the Bible, pray, and encourage one another. We understand that there is a spectrum of opinions on how isolated we should be and so there should be grace afforded to all. Jason Seville, the senior pastor of an international church in China, writes, “Some will interpret “love your neighbor” as a command to not step foot outside their home for two months aside from obtaining life necessities. Others will feel that “love your neighbor” compels them to get face-to-face time with church members, even if it’s really mask-to-mask time as they keep a comfortable “social distance.” The former person may indeed struggle with fear or have an underlying idol of health. The latter may struggle with submission or have an underlying idol of independence. But if both genuinely feel they’re trying to honor the commands and wisdom of Scripture, we can be charitable with one another even if we come to different conclusions.” (read the full article at Avoiding Disunity amid Difficult (Coronavirus) Decisions)
We understand that some will be most comfortable just worshipping at home with their family and attending small group over video conferencing, while others feel a deep need and obligation to worship with other believers. We believe this order gives the option for worship gatherings as long as the guidelines are able to be met and wisdom is used. We also continue to provide online resources during this time for worship, discipleship, prayer, encouragement, and connection.
Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services
Galatians 6:10 instructs us, “Therefore, as we have an opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith”. As we read on Sunday, Jeremiah 29:7 states, “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” Look for opportunities to serve during this time. This means looking for opportunities to serve one another, but also look for opportunities to serve in the community. Find out if organizations need help preparing meals, delivering food, taking donations, etc. Find out ways to serve in the community and let others know about opportunities as well. Serving together is a great way to connect with others in the church family during this time as well.
…gathering of family members living in the same residence.
We would completely waste this time if we did not take time to slow down and be intentional in our own households. Go for walks as a family. Play board games (Target had buy 2 get one free on Monday). Shoot basketball in the driveway. Start a project together. And in all this, be intentional to show and speak the love of Jesus into the lives of your family. This is also a great time to start a family devotional time. RightNowMedia.org has a ton of videos that you can watch as a family, no matter what the age range, and then discuss together. Be intentional with your time together. Don’t waste it.
Here are five ways we can be the body of Christ, even when we are physically separated.
Spend Time in God’s Word
We need to spend time in the Word of God ourselves. Paul tells the Colossian church to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Colossians 3:16). How can you serve the body of Christ while apart? Read the Bible. Meditate upon it. Memorize it. Write it upon your heart. Why? Two reasons: (1) so that you may be able to taste and see the goodness of God (Psalm 34:8) and (2) so you can have something to encourage your brothers or sisters (Ephesians 4:29). Here is a great reading plan to get you going in 2020.
Prayer is one of the most obvious things we can do. Being separated by space does not limit the service we can provide to each other in this way. Here are a few things for you to pray for:
- Pray for those who are sick and for their families. Ask God to show Himself to them during this time.
- Pray for our medical community. Ask God to keep them safe and well.
- Ask God, in His mercy, to stop this pandemic and save lives—not only in our communities but around the world, particularly in places that are unequipped medically to deal with the virus (Isaiah 59:1-2).
- Pray for our government leaders—international, federal, state, and local—to have the wisdom to direct us in the best courses of action for prevention and care. (Romans 13:1–4)
- Scripture says—teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Pray that the Lord will give us wisdom in this moment of fear as the foundations of what we know are shaken, that others would realize how fragile life is and how real eternity is, and they would see their need to turn to God. (Psalm 90:12)
- Ask God to protect our missionaries and their families around the globe, using this global crisis to advance His Good News to the whole world. (Mark 16:15)
- Pray for provision for those that have lost jobs or have had a decrease in job hours.
- Pray for our church and for the elders, ministry leaders, and small group leaders. Ask God to give us the wisdom to make decisions that honor Him and others.
- Ask God to continue to reveal in you those areas of your heart that still look for comfort, joy, and security from things other than Him.
- Pray for your family.
- Take the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9–14) and pray it for one another
- Be still and be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit may be laying on your heart to pray.
Fight against sin
With the understanding that we are part of the body of Christ we then want to fight against sin that would pollute the body. Just like you wouldn’t want to do something that would hurt yourself, so too, you don’t want to injure the body. During the time of isolation for coronavirus reports indicate that all sorts of undesirable activities are increasing. Sins like drunkenness, abuse, pornography, and others are on the rise. As Christians, we don’t see this time as a season for moral laxity or self-indulgence but of holiness through self-denial. We are to fight against sin and put it to death because we are Christ’s (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5). And if we are Christ’s then we are part of his body.
One expression of being a part of the body of Christ is the regular, joyful, and sacrificial giving to the Lord’s work in our local churches. While the current crisis has far-reaching implications, the local church is not exempt. Even though churches are not meeting publicly, they continue to have needs. The church relies on the regular giving of her members to support missionaries, pay church staff, pay the rent, as well as the benevolence needs in the body. Each member should carefully and prayerfully consider their service to the church in this area as well.
Rest in the Gospel
Remember that it is God’s grace that saves us, purifies us, satisfies us, and sustains us. Resting in the Gospel means reminding ourselves that it is not in what we can do for God that makes us righteous but in what He has done for us in Christ Jesus. It also means that we strive to find our rest in Jesus rather than in the things of this world. Remember that Jesus said to come to Him because his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Look to Jesus, run to Jesus, rest in Jesus. He is good. He is strong. He is glorious.
There are many ways the church can be the church when not gathered together physically. We are thankful that while these are new challenges for us today, they are not a surprise to God. He is in control, and he remains unflinchingly committed to His church. Let us seek his wisdom to do the same.
Your elders love you Mosaic family. We Are proud of you. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2). Use the link below to let us know how we can be praying for you.