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Regardless of your personal beliefs about the origins of the coronavirus, and regardless of whether you agree or not with how the CDC and our government have handled things concerning it, there is a belief system forming around covid and how we should respond to it that is falling along ideological lines. I believe it’s pivotal. That is, I believe that we are in the days of Elijah when he challenged God’s people Israel, and he said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, then serve Him. And if it’s Baal, then serve him.”
Now, what do I mean by that? I think it is possible to be divided or not totally clear in your beliefs concerning the virus itself. Certainly we’ve seen families where, perhaps the husband is very cautious about staying home and avoiding contact and the wife isn’t ruffled a bit. Or vice versa.
But what I think we’re seeing – and I noticed this from the get-go back in March when things first hit the fan – is that there are two camps emerging. One is seemingly energized by covid and by the stats and by the government mandates controlling people’s movements, and the other is suspicious of the narrative, questioning some of the reports coming out, questioning what they see as government overreach from their mayors and governors, and in all of it, believing that the church must not indefinitely remain in lockdown, if indeed that was ever a good idea to begin with.
As many pastors have pointed out, the cliché we’ve seen bandied about is, “the church isn’t a building.” While that is true, the church by definition of the original Greek word Ekklesia, is a gathering.
A pastor friend of mine recently told me how this spring a man approached him who wanted desperately to be baptized. But his own pastor wouldn’t do it. Because of covid. And my friend pointed out that all the basic tenants of Christianity that we are instructed to do as the church: baptism, laying on of hands, anointing of oil by the elders, assembling, corporate prayer and worship, all these things require getting together.
Now I did prayer on Zoom nearly every single night for 50 days straight with the church body. And I was thankful for that time. But I can tell you it was nothing like meeting in person to pray when we resumed our prayer meetings. Just the sense of the manifest presence of God, the ease in entering into the way His spirit was leading us…just the joy of being with brothers and sisters and a sense of partaking in their burdens and in them sharing ours . . . It is night and day when you’re talking physical separation or togetherness.
Back in May, when the president announced that churches are essential and that assembling should resume as pastors see fit, I was stunned to see a number of professing Christians, including church leaders, rebuke the president. Some even openly mocked him for affirming the necessity of the church.
Now I happen to live in a state with a governor who has become very unpopular because of his overreach, but also because he has acted unilaterally and some would argue recklessly, changing his position and deciding who is essential and who can stay open on a weekly basis, which causes all kinds of confusion and which has sadly ruined many small businesses, some of which have been in a family for generations. And while nursing home residents live like prisoners without family members even allowed to see them through a window in many cases, the abortion clinics have remained opened and funded with stimulus money – that is, we the people’s money. (I was prayer vigiling at an abortion clinic last week and noticed that an unlimited amount of family members were accompanying some of these girls in to get their abortions. While not even one is allowed in many cases to come into a hospital ICU and be an advocate for their sick family members these people just rolled right in what is always labeled a medical facility).
Under the regulations imposed unilaterally by our governor, I couldn’t get my daughter int to see an eye doctor even though she was having issues and I was deeply concerned. I could however, get my cat in to see a vet.
All that to say, for this and a myriad of other reasons, my governor does not have my vote of confidence that the citizens’ best interest is at the forefront of his decisions. Nevertheless, if my governor despite his record and his rhetoric had in any way affirmed the church, which I would take as affirming the Lord and His influence, I would have been elated. And very supportive of that one show of integrity, regardless of my personal opinions toward him.
For pastors to be so full of bitterness and pride that they would openly mock and deride the nation’s leader for affirming the church says quite a lot about the kind of men those individuals are — and the path they are on, and where they’re leading others in their congregations.
I believe we’re living in a 2 Thessalonians 2 moment. Paul warned the church not to be deceived, not to get hoodwinked by claims that the Day of the Lord had already arrived. Paul knew that there were rumblings and rumors, and he told the church in Thessalonica to watch for certain signs to happen first. And this is what he says,
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the Day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first. (Apostasy means falling away) and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (vv. 3-5, NASB).
So here we see this definition of the man of lawlessness, he demands worship, he exalts himself above God, and a precursor of his coming is that the church starts to fall into apostasy. Apostasy is the act of falling away from your convictions. from your faith. Do we see that today? Is it on an unprecedented scale?
Paul continues in verse seven,
“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way (many scholars agree that the restraining agent in the earth is a reference to the Holy Spirit, present in the church}. And as the church diminishes, falls away, backslides in its faith and its fear of the Lord, this antichrist figure emerges. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His [coming; (so when Christ comes on the scene, there will be a final showdown between Him and this worker of iniquity) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, (so Satan’s agendas and [purposes in the earth work in cooperation with the rise of this man of lawlessness) with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (This is key here, guys. The people who fall away, who maybe start out as believers, really love the Lord, they don’t finish the race. Why? Because they did not love the truth. What’s truth? Jesus is Truth. His word is truth. And His word is becoming increasingly unpopular in a culture that demands Tolerance and Political Correctness and doesn’t want to hear about sin and hell and the wrath of God)(vv.7-10, NASB, boldface mine).
He continues, “For this reason (for what reason? Because these individuals did not love the truth – and again, I believe this is talking about believers, Christians, professing Christians those who have some knowledge of God – I believe this applies to people we would refer to as the church) God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness (vv. 11-12, NASB).
This is a scary and sobering passage of scripture. What is taking pleasure in wickedness? It’s going along with it. It’s not standing up to it. It’s not speaking out about it in the church. When you’re energized by covid numbers because you think it will hurt your political foes and shut down your country and bring about an agenda that will capsize the nation and usher in socialist principles, and you call yourself a Christian, I urge you to examine your heart!
If you’re into scolding and shaming people, perhaps not even with words, but with a silent, latent hostility, I urge you to examine your heart.
There is a real virus and it is being used to propagate agendas and some of the agendas are very wicked. And there are Christians who are aligning themselves with these agendas and who are enthused about the virus – yes, I have seen it. I’ve seen lots of crocodile tears over covid numbers and I’ve observed scarcely-contained gleeful postings of how bad things are and individuals are absolutely worshiping this – by the way, the word corona means “crown,” and as one of my pastors pointed out, this thing wants to be worshiped, wants people to give it all their attention, all their time, all their fear and concern. That’s what worship is – giving first place to something.
It is astonishing how quickly events are unfolding that we see in Revelation, in the end times, that reaction to the virus – not the virus itself – has been used to proliferate. Things like food shortages, and inflation, and just this month there was another push forward toward digital currency and a cashless society. There’s a push for mandatory vaccination and containment (detainment) sites and contact tracing which is just absolutely horrifying. It’s the stuff of an Orwellian nightmare.
The concern above all of it is that there are still people in the church who just don’t see any of it. They don’t get it. Meanwhile, we see Christians who, it’s like the lines of right and wrong are suddenly blurring for them. As wickedness and lawlessness increases, they’re drifting further away from what previously would have shocked them and brought from their mouths a decisive “no!”
And this is what 2 Thessalonians 2 describes: “they did not love the truth that would have saved them. And so God sent them a deluding spirit.”
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, I’m going to be very blunt. If you continue to listen to the voice of your news media and put credence in Hollywood and all the other cultural voices out there, you’re giving place to a deceiving spirit. And even though you might pray and read your Bible, the problem is, you’re getting two streams – one that is clear, that is God’s — and one that is polluted. And what happens to a clear stream when it hits a polluted or poisonous agent? Usually, if it’s toxic enough, the whole thing becomes contaminated.
Jesus said a little leaven leavens the whole lump. A little bit of negative influence, a little deception, a little bit off the path leaves you completely deceived, completely off the path, completely in error.
We are in the days of Elijah when he challenged God’s people Israel, and he said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, then serve Him. And if Baal is god, then serve him.”
And do you remember what scripture said? “The people answered him not a word.” They were passive. Silent. So much like God’s people today. They had to see fire fall from heaven before it knocked their breath out of them and they exclaimed, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord. He is God!”
Let’s be those people who choose this day whom we will serve. No matter the cost. No matter the outcome.