Four Years Later, Do We Love Christ More?

Four Years Later, Do We Love Christ More?

If we have learned anything through the last four years, we ought to have learned how worthy Christ is of our love. We have seen so much more clearly the necessity of His body, the beauty of holiness, and the majesty of worship. Moreover, we have seen His unyielding faithfulness to us, sustaining us through an unprecedented period in our lives.

Recently a picture of the 2020 AWANA Grand Prix displayed on my tv screensaver. As I looked at the image and saw many familiar faces of people sitting close together and kids smiling and playing, I reflected on how this event was the last major event we had as a church before the world shut down in response to the COVID-19 virus. Little did we know during the Grand Prix how quickly and drastically everything was about to change.

In what seemed like an instant in March 2020, the entire world changed. Curfews were enacted. Many stores and restaurants were closed. All sporting events were canceled. Schools were shut down and eventually went online. Travel was halted. Gloves were initially recommended for grocery shopping to help slow the spread of the virus. Then those recommendations were eventually replaced with mask mandates. And, most shocking of all, countless churches closed their doors and sat nearly empty on Sunday mornings. Typically, only the preacher and the support staff needed to livestream a service were present, as worship went virtual for the majority of congregants.

Debates quickly began to swirl about whether the church should be open or closed due to the COVID-19 virus. Was the church essential, or could the functions of the church go virtual without losing the essence of what the church is all about? When mask mandates were imposed, the debate intensified: should churches require their congregations to mask to attend worship? Did church leaders even have the biblical authority to make such a requirement of God’s people? Churches divided sharply over these and other issues throughout the year, with the result that many people today attend a different church than the one they attended on February 29, 2020. Tragically, many people who went virtual with worship have never returned to church even four years later.

Throughout this tumultuous time, American Christians had the opportunity to reflect on the significance of the local church. The freedom to wake up on a Sunday morning and attend worship without government regulations affecting our gatherings was something we took for granted pre-COVID-19. In light of COVID-19 and the government mandates, we came to terms with the reality that this freedom is not guaranteed and is something that we should cherish.

Yet there are signs that the lessons learned during 2020 are starting to grow dim in our memories. With life returning mostly to normal, masks becoming less commonplace, and society running at full steam, we quickly forget how essential and precious the gathering of the saints is. We once again can begin to take for granted the centrality of worship. We easily might skip a Sunday because we had a long week at work and feel tired, or we allow other obligations to crowd out the central priority of corporate worship.

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