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What COVID taught us about the Church  

COVID is gone—but its scars are not. 

 

As I talk with believers across the country, I’m hearing two universal observations. Call them “False Lessons.” I say false, because though they aren’t true, our conduct suggests we believe they are. 

 

Lesson 1:Church attendance is (apparently) optional. 

Judging by the number of folks who used to attend services but no longer do, one would think that the Bible has little or nothing to say about church attendance. But that’s hardly the case. 

 

We don’t go to church to merely “get” a sermon. Biblically, we go to church to GIVE. We give our voices in worship. We give our listening ear to people who are hurting. We share in prayer with those sitting next to us who need comforting. You can’t do that at home in your pajamas while watching a sermon. 

 

In retrospect, COVID appears to have been just the excuse some people needed to drop church attendance from their “To do” list. While some transitioned to other assemblies, almost every congregation I know is still down a little—or a lot—in attendance. Apparently, church attendance is optional. That’s (false) lesson number one.

 

Lesson 2: We don’t need to abide by the weaker brother principle.

During COVID, most churches wrestled with two polarized positions regarding masks. Group A was appalled that some in the church would “cave in” to mask mandates. Group B was appalled that some in the church would “endanger others” by not wearing a mask.

 

What was shockingly absent was any conversation about the weaker brother principle. Namely, “If my wearing a mask makes you more comfortable, I will happily do that for the sake of our unity in Christ.” And vice versa. 

 

That biblical mandate somehow didn’t apply. Instead, many churches split. But how did we jettison the clear teaching of Romans 14:3?  We’re commanded, “The strong believer should not look down on the weaker believer.” Or what about Romans 12:18? We’re told, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” On what biblical authority did we go around that?

 

How I wish we could go back and do the COVID thing with a more godly humility. If we are this easily divided over a relatively small issue, what will we do when something truly consequential comes along?

 

Heaven help the Church!

 
 

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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Jon Gauger Media 2016