The president’s announcement to return to Level 3 lockdown was not unexpected in that something needed to be done with the resurgence of the Coronavirus, which has been causing larger damage across every aspect of society than before. Not exclusively, but as a people we have not being doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus–we have been living negligently and been disrespecting the Covid Command Counsel’s restrictions and rules. Before you become angry about that sweeping statement, let me explain.
I visited someone yesterday in one of the suburbs and was totally amazed as I drove up the main road, which is anything as long as three kilometers. I saw children, teens, young adults, middle-aged and older people. Not one person walking somewhere, be it going to the shops or elsewhere was wearing a mask. People were sitting on pavements on chairs having drinks. People were coming out of the corner supermarket … none were wearing masks. The people are delinquent, as are the shop’s staff. This is Tshwane … a Covid hot spot … and this is on the eve of the president going to address the nation. Not only do the level three restrictions affect everyone throughout the country … they affect churchgoers because all faith based groups are banned from meeting during the next 14 days (which includes two Sundays). I relate this story because stopping church services has an effect on believers. We cannot gather together to worship our glorious Lord and King.
Physical Worship Gatherings enjoy the presence of God in a greater way than online ministries. The things I will mention below are things we do on online platforms too, but it is not the same because we are distant and separate and individual. God created us for togetherness, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Fortunately, these lockdown measures are temporal … but whilst we are separate, we long to meet with the Body of Christ, for this is our real and true family because the Head of the Body and the Body are the same family.
Heb 2:11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Families belong together! Separation through lock down means:
We can’t sing.
Communal singing includes a few vital ingredients. Firstly, good, healthy Christian singing is to be filled with solid doctrine and theology, as we see in the Psalms (which are songs themselves). Singing is praise to God, but it is also edification and encouragement for the saints. When we sing we also sing to each other.
Eph 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We can’t pray together.
We can pray, but during this level of lockdown we can’t do it together. Praying together carries manifold benefits. Although prayer is talking to God, corporate prayer is edifying and encouraging to the saints, for here we find out how others pray, what they pray about and how they use Scripture in prayer. Coupled to this, God tends to respond more quickly and more powerfully to corporate prayer.
Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
We can’t read God’s Word together.
The plain reading of the Word is instructive. A good reader will place emphasis correctly bringing the Word to life for better understanding of the hearers.
1 Tim 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture
We can’t hear God speak through His servant together.
Without minimizing any of the other “worship gathering” ingredients, the central feature is the Word proclaimed … the exposition of the Word. What this means is that the preacher who has done his homework crafting a message, delivering it under the anointing of the Spirit, is explaining the Word to the flock. He is telling them what God is saying and applying the message by instructing the hearers what God requires of them.
1 Tim 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
We can’t fellowship together.
This is an ingredient that many Christians ignore. We as believers are more important to each other and the Kingdom than is often realized. We encourage and strengthen each other. Without being aware of it, we educate (teach) and counsel each other.
Ps 55:13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, 14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.
Never forget that the center of all Christian fellowship is Jesus.
1 Cor 1:9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus
We can’t be a blessing to each other.
When separated we can’t do “good” to each other. There are no physical blessing.
Gal 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Dear God, hasten the end of COVID-19 and our lockdown so that we can enjoy healthy Christian fellowship. Amen.