34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
I’ve been called a few names in the past year. I’ve bene told that I’m stupid and gullible and that I’m compromising with the world. The last example gives the game away, the insults have often come from those who would claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ. The context has of course been the pandemic and how we respond to it as churches.
Church leaders have had to make difficult decisions. Do we open the building or not? Do we protest a specific set of regulations? Would it even be right in some circumstances not to comply? If we do choose not to open a building then what can we do and what should we do to best obey the call of Scripture to gather together as God’s people.
Generally speaking, I’ve seen lots of examples of pastors and elders finding their way through things together. We don’t always agree. I know some very good friends who are adamant that you can’t call a zoom meeting a church service and that you can’t take communion at it. However, though we disagree, we recognise it as a second order issue and we trust each others’ motives.
However, at the outer edges there has been some fraying. I’ve mentioned the name calling already. This has been encouraged by mega-church pastors choosing not just to disagree with their State but to frame their reasoning in terms of obedience to God versus worldly compromise. I’ve also seen pastors who chose to defy lockdown regulations and open then boast about how they’ve attracted people from other churches. They show no interest in helping people to get back to their home church.
Now, to be fair, the same people who fall out over lockdown are the same people who for years have been happy to launch tirades against the wider evangelical church demanding legalistic judgement whilst in at least one case conveniently forgetting the grace shown to them over a far more serious error.
But we need to be 100% clear that this simply will not do. This is not how the body of Christ is meant to function. We are meant to be family. Our love for one another is meant to be a witness. To call your brother “fool” is according to Jesus in Matthew 5 serious sin. Repentance is needed for this lack of love and care.
Too often at times, the dynamic has been no different to that seen in a recently leaked video of a parish council meeting on Zoom going to pot.
The video footage has bene described as the best British comedy in years. However for those involved any sense of fame will be overridden by a level of embarrassment. It is cringeworthy isn’t it? But what would people think or feel if our meetings, debates and conversations were made publicly available in the same way?
We are meant to be family not rival politiciansTweet
We need to be reminded again that fellow pastors and elders who love the Lord, His Word and the Gospel and are trying to make sense of how to pastor churches and reach out with the good news are not the enemy but our brothers and allies.