It's imperative that we develop sensitivity to what God's mood is and what he's up to. Moses knew when God was mad and when he was pleased. More so Jesus, the Son. Thus, the church should ask why God is allowing the church to stop meeting during this Covid crisis. What's God up to? [Image above from this site].
It's not something incidental, fortuitous or accidental. No such thing to God. Everything has a purpose. So why did he allow a stop to church gatherings? Persecutions have tried to close down churches but what we have today is something different (though it may eventually lead to it if the anti-Christ enters the picture and starts ruling the world). Church is closed down for safety and survival, even of its own members, from a deadly virus.
God allowed the virus to make governments prohibit all types of gatherings the world over. This is unprecedented in world history. In the process, churches are affected. So it's far from being systematic persecution. Even church people need to be quarantined for their own safety. By the way, we see how governments see the church as no different from the secular--because it is powerless.
If only Christian churches were like their LORD, commanding things and diseases and viruses to scram in submission, then governments would probably see them differently from the secular and allow them to go out to worship together. But as it is, they're only as good as secular cause-oriented organizations and NGOs.
With this church condition, God is unhappy. We're supposed to reflect his glory, power and authority on earth as Jesus did, yet were just like NGOs. And we're often proud of that. It's nice to be of help to society like NGOs are, but that's for NGOs. We're not NGOs. We're the church. We're supposed to demo what the Kingdom is.
We've been so busy with everything except the supernatural things of God. We're trying and doing everything--even copying what's effective in the world--but trash the supernatural equipment of God. And we invent a lot of "church ministries" that Jesus and the apostles never did. We look more secular than the secular world. Which reminds me of Isaiah 24:
See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earthThe Lord was so pissed off even with his ministers, making suffering the same "for priest as for people." John warned us not to love the world or the things of the world. Church should do things exclusively in God's supernatural ways as his servants did in the bible--particularly as Jesus did in the Gospel. We're his followers, right?
and devastate it;
he will ruin its face
and scatter its inhabitants—
2 it will be the same
for priest as for people,
for the master as for his servant,
for the mistress as for her servant,
for seller as for buyer,
for borrower as for lender,
for debtor as for creditor.
3 The earth will be completely laid waste
and totally plundered.
The Lord has spoken this word.
So my guess is, God decreed the closing of church meetings so we'd stop everything we're doing there--because everything there pisses him off. He stopped it so we can rethink how we see church, our lives and characters, and especially our relationship with him. God usually sends his people to such wilderness for re-evaluation and reflection.
I see lots of Sunday worship posts and live streaming on Facebook and I seem to hear God tell me, they still don't get it. They insist on their own way of worshiping. Which reminds me of a place in Amos 5:
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;Don't get me wrong. Live streaming is good. Using modern technology and cyberspace is good. I have a vlog and can easily do that, too. But what's our real motive in doing it? Is it because others are doing it? Are we afraid to be left out? Do we want to showoff or brag about our worship and how good it is?
your assemblies are a stench to me.22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
I think God is allowing quarantine (worldwide) so we can be alone and quiet and intently look inside us and reevaluate everything. To genuinely hear his voice and experience his genuine presence. Church has become alien to God's voice and presence that it often mocks talks about genuinely hearing God's voice and claim God is present in their midst when he is not. They often mistake goosebumps to God's presence.
There's a big difference between knowing God is everywhere and experiencing his presence.
In Hosea, what did God want"
But let justice roll on like a river,Justice has to do with how we treat people. Righteousness has to do with character. In Christ, what matters is only LIFE and character, period. And this becomes true, not through church rituals or programs, but by seeking Jesus' face. Having HIM live our lives. Earlier in Hosea, God even said:
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
“Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel,"He urges people to seek HIM, not seek local churches or church buildings (Bethel is house of God). This church generation has become too particular about church buildings and facilities than God himself. People seek nice buildings, nice programs, nice ministries, popular ministers, good church music and singing, but not God.
I've been noticing how churches outrace each other on evangelism, not to obey God's mandate, but to get more people in. Because more people means more income, and more income means nicer church properties, buildings and facilities. Greater influence, power and leverage for getting what they want. As a result, the spirit of arrogance in church is unbelievable. Samuel the prophet said "arrogance is like the evil of idolatry." And we know how God loathes idolatry. He mercilessly demolishes it.
So what does God do? I am reminded of Hosea 2:
I will stop all her celebrations:Why? Because they did everything except what God wanted.
her yearly festivals, her New Moons,
her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals.
I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals;Before we display and brag about our worship live streaming, let's seriously rethink our church life. Maybe (just maybe) the Lord wants us to stop everything--trash everything we do for him--and go back to his original plan in the bible.
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot,”
declares the Lord.
Worship should be no less than how it's done in heaven. Jesus gave the hint--God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Another hint by Jesus--true worshipers worship in spirit and in truth. Nothing more, nothing less. The Father seeks such worshipers. These worshipers bring down worship in heaven on earth. It's not through fancy worship equipment, program or music. It's in spirit and in truth.
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. [Hebrews 9.11]
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