Thursday, October 1 2020 - 4:52 PM

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Pacific Southwest

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Cancelling Church and Getting “Sick”

The Coronavirus is not a game or “foreign” agent that can be politicized or explained away. It is simply a virus on a mission to infect its hosts. It does not discriminate—it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, or your economic status, gender, political affiliation, or religious beliefs. If you are exposed to it and your immune system is not resilient enough to ward it off, you’re going to get it. Period!

While it may be prudent to temporarily cancel church to prevent dangerous viral infections from spreading, it is equally appropriate to search for new ways to become infected with God’s mercy? We need to be as persistent about reflecting God’s grace to others as COVID-19 is about creating havoc in our bodies?

When we are infected with God’s love, the people who cross our paths will know we are “sick,” in a good way. We are “love sick” with the God of creation; with the One who saved us from self destruction and ruin! And it has an immediate impact upon how we treat others—even those we don’t agree with.

In the first century, the Apostle Peter and other fellow believers spread the “Jesus story” throughout Jerusalem, to the point that local church leaders were alarmed. They commanded them to stop, which they couldn’t do, and Peter was arrested.

What followed was an incredible escape instigated by angels, who led Peter onto the streets in the wee hours of the morning.

The next day when the religious leaders wanted to question Peter, they were shocked.

“When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the high council—the full assembly of the elders of Israel. Then they sent for the apostles to be brought from the jail for trial. But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone. So they returned to the council and reported, ‘The jail was securely locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!’”

“When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end. Then someone arrived with startling news: ‘The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple, teaching the people!’” (Acts 5:22-25)

Once again Peter was restrained and brought before the council:

The high priest said, “We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!…Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him!” (Acts 5:24-25)

“But Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority'” (verse 29).

Those were the words of a “sick” man who was thoroughly infected with God’s goodness—to the point that he could not be stopped.

Oh, that we could be like Peter… consumed by God’s love for a confused and misinformed world!

Oh, that our churches could recognize their assignment to be theaters of grace, where the drama of sin and forgiveness continually play out:

“Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 12).

The “drama” in our churches may be temporarily suspended, but God’s story continues to unfold, especially in the midst of a crisis.

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

writes for Pacific Union Conference, Westlake Village, CA.

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