A look at faith, hope and fear
April 1, 2020
My April Fool’s Day article will wait another year in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our preacher’s sermon March 22, titled “Fear, Faith, and Hope” (the basis for this article), was exceptional for encouragement. You can view the entire 12-minute sermon at https://www.facebook.com/leonard.lauriault.
Our church is complying with social distancing guidelines although worship centers remain exempt from mass gathering limitations. Since we have many at-risk members, several families met in homes in smaller groups (Philemon 1:1-2; Colossians 4:15; Romans 16:3-5, 16). One “safe” person delivered communion to them because wherever two or three are gathered together, Jesus is there, and despite differences in meeting times and places throughout the world, the church universal is united in corporate worship as the body of Christ (Matthew 18:20; 26:26-30; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Ephesians 4:1-7). So our people are maintaining corporate worship by continuing in the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, communion and prayer when possible on the first day of the week (Sunday) as best as they can (Acts 2:42; 20:7).
Appropriate fear is good, but lack thereof or inappropriate fear can be fatal (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Luke 12:4-7; Matthew 25:14-30). Appropriate fear is love and reverence for God that provides comfort because he’s in control (Psalm 111:10; Philippians 4:4-13, 19-20; Matthew 6:25-34; Hebrews 10:35-39; Romans 8:28).
We’re also to obey governmental leaders, because God establishes their authority, and pray they’ll make decisions based on God’s wisdom (2 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; James 3:13-18; Matthew 23:1-4). This doesn’t imply blind obedience causing us to disobey God, but it’s wisely appropriate to follow their COVID-19 orders and recommendations (Acts 4:18-20; 5:27-32). It’s also appropriate for Christians to obey now or any time as an example for others (Romans 14:16-23; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
In the passages above, Paul wrote about food and idols, but his statements apply to anything that separates us from God or causes someone to stumble. So if you can safely attend worship services at the church building, do so and maintain your example to your neighbors. If you or a family member is at risk, stay home and worship. Your neighbors already know your example for regular attendance, and they’ll recognize your greater commitment in continuing in worship wherever you are as they see someone delivering communion to you, if your church can do that safely (Matthew 28:18-20). The “world” includes your home and neighborhood!
God won’t abandon his children now or at any time (Hebrews 13:5-6). In the Old Testament, he permitted delayed observation of Passover because some couldn’t participate at the prescribed time (Numbers 9:1-14). This still applies; so those who can meet with others to participate in corporate worship, by any means, should. But, God doesn’t hold it against his children who cannot because he knows our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7; Romans 8:26-27).
So during this COVID-19 pandemic, let’s obey our government and revere God, who loves us and wants us to not be fearful, maintaining our faith and hope in him, and replacing fear with love (Romans 8:31-39; John 14:1-7; 16:33; 1 John 4:4-19; 2 Timothy 1:7, 12-13; 4:6-8).
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan who writes about faith for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at [email protected]