It is a remarkable thing, you know, this thing called priority. Just a few weeks ago, religious leaders were boldly asserting in their high-dollar online videos that it was too dangerous to return to worship and that we needed to listen to our political and health leaders. “They are the experts,” they told us. And so a vast amount of compliant people stayed home following the orders of their health czars, and most religious leaders quickly concurred. For some now, it has been 1/3 of the year away from the church. That’s approximately 121 days without the church, “out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” (WCF 25.2)
The shocking reality, as Barna pointed out recently, is most evangelicals quit the virtual worship experience after four weeks. The hype and enthusiasm of pajamas and brewed coffee in front of a screen lasted no more than 30 days. As if we needed more proof, the reality of virtual worship became virtually unknown shortly after the quarantine.
Then, the tragic death of George Floyd, propelled by other sociological events, urged religious leaders to come out of their basements, put on their clerical garbs, and take a stand. Letters were sent out urging pastors to speak up. Many needed practice since it had been a long rhetorical hiatus. Of course, by that time, thousands of protesters were flooding the streets everywhere. The public square was filled again. Then, and only then, did the religious leaders say, “Come, let us go do the work of the Lord!” Yes, even Michigan and New Jersey governors known for their vociferous opposition to that thing called “gathered assembly” now joined the festivities with dance and song. The media which condemned the little children from playing in the streets and prophesied doom to any who would dare take off their masks or gather in greater than the magnanimous number of 10 quickly raised the banner for the protesters.
“Thou shalt worship at home with no more than 10, but thou shalt protest with no less than thousands,” saith the media.
The Christian should and must seek the peace of the city, the welfare of its brothers and sisters, justice and mercy must kiss at the call of righteousness. To protest is the inherent right of human beings, but do you know what else is an inherent right of image-bearers? psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, the wine and the bread, the word of God preached, the fellowship of the saints, hugs and handshakes.
That remarkable thing called priority has a way of showing us our true loves. Would that the zeal of pastors and priests be as elevated for the death of God’s Son as much as the death of one of God’s children. Perhaps one reason many of the protests have turned into a spectacle of shame and destruction is because they failed to be grounded first in the compassion of Jesus which we receive most clearly when God’s people enter his courts with praise and thanksgiving.
Uri Brito is the Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl. He is the founder and contributor to Kuyperian Commentary, a guest contributor at The Christian Post, and is a board member of the Theopolis.. Rev. Brito received his M.Div from Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently a doctoral student at RTS.
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