Mindless Christians. I could have chosen from several other words. Thickheaded. Muttonheaded. Boneheaded. Even asinine.
Exactly what are church leaders missing in the warnings about gathering in the face of COVID-19? Mindless seems like the best choice, meaning “acting or done without justification or concern for the consequences.” Or add to this…"not thinking of or concerned about.” In terms of their congregations, that’s more dangerous.
There are a number of examples before us. Let’s start with this one. How can mindless Christians help spread the COVID-19 virus? Just sign on to evangelist Jonathan Shuttlesworth’s plan. This Pennsylvania pastor claims he is organizing an outdoor “Woodstock”-like Easter service. His reason is to form a protest over the shelter-in-place mandates.
He’s even coined a special term for it. And boy is he proud about this! "I’m gonna announce it. … We’re gonna hold an outdoor Easter blowout service. Not online. A national gathering. You come from all over, like Woodstock. And we’re gonna gather and lift up Jesus Christ," Shuttlesworth said.
No…we’re not. Not the people who still have brains, anyway. If you didn’t know better, you might think this is a Jim Jones-style call to "drink the Kool-aid."
This next headline showed up on April Fool’s Day. (Need I say more?) “Churchgoers flock to hear Louisiana pastor despite virus ban.” There were buses and cars aplenty for this Tuesday evening worship service. The pastor decided to ignore wisdom—and the law—by holding his gatherings in spite of a ban on such.
A few of the more reasonable thinkers decided to protest the meeting. One used a bullhorn, hoping to knock some sense into the group. One demonstrator had a sign that read, “God don't like stupid.”
Off we go to Ohio next. There, the Solid Rock Church of Lebanon was determined to continue to hold worship services despite health officials in that state urging them to stop over concerns they would be virus spreaders. Neighbors of the church had actually complained about their gatherings.
Receiving less than honorable mention was the push for churches to be classified as “essential services” as the Texas governor proceeded to do. Admittedly, this is a bit tricky. But here’s some of the language related to the governor’s order: "This Executive Order does not prohibit people from accessing essential services or engaging in essential daily activities... so long as the necessary precautions are maintained” the order reads. Add this, "... The order also includes exemption for religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship."
Fortunately, the non-ccoperatives are now in the minority. According to Lifeway Research, about 7 percent of Protestant churches met in-person a week ago. Fewer plan to meet for Easter. But wait…the Lifeway poll revealed 3 percent of churches claim they will meet in-person on Easter “no matter what!”
In an age where you can find strong evangelical worship services on television and you can live stream or send out your own recorded church services, why put God to the test? That’s exactly what it is. Jesus wouldn’t do it.
When Satan tempted him with a dare-devil challenge to throw himself off the temple to see if God would come to the rescue, “Jesus said to him, 'Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:7 (ESV)
The Evil One sees Christians push this “test” button too often. I’m sure he has his own choice words for it. Witless. Foolish. Empty-headed. Vacuous. Lame-brained.
Let me add one more. Sinful.
Don’t be mindless. Set your mind on Jesus.
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