The hallmark of a religious person has always been going to church on Sundays. Some denominations would say, “Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, and every time the doors are open.” Over the years, I have asked many women if they have a personal relationship with Christ and the response I have often gotten is something like, “Yes, I have always believed in God. We went to church every Sunday when I was a kid.” At the risk of being ridiculed and showing my age, one of my favorite shows has always been “The Waltons.” It was one of the few shows we could watch and not be concerned about language or content. This Baptist family regularly attended church. However, one of the sub-themes of the show was that everyone went but the dad, John Walton. The family was always dressed to go in their Sunday best, while John sat at the family table with his coffee and paper. Olivia, the mom, would always ask him to come and Grandma (his mom) would say: “It wouldn’t hurt you to get some religion.” As a young believer, I came to the conclusion that John must not know Christ or he would have the desire to gather with the saints and worship his God. Yes, attending church has and always will be the mark of a believer.
What would happen if we could not go to church? Do not worry, there will always be churches to attend. Or would there? On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency that would begin a national quarantine due to COVID 19. We were unable to attend church for the better part of three months. Prior to that, I spent most of my time talking with ladies about accepting Christ as their Savior and then gathering with the saints. Yet, now what? How will we worship? How will we encourage one another and receive the encouragement we need to live for Christ?
God used the quarantine (Romans 8:28) to grow me and the ladies I serve with by teaching us several truths. The first is found in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” Paul was teaching the people of Corinth that they are God’s church, not a building. As long as there are believers, there will be God’s church.
The second truth that we learned is found in James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Through our inability to gather on Sundays, God taught us that true religion is caring for people. Orphans and widows were the neediest of their culture. During the quarantine, the need was overwhelming. We learned to gather, worship, and encourage in new ways. To encourage the lonely, we often met in front yards to visit. We worked tirelessly to navigate technology so we could gather over Zoom, pray together, and study God’s Word. Ladies went grocery shopping for those with compromised health, visited with people shut in at retirement communities through windows, and prayed in the parking lot of hospitals when we were unable to go in to see people. Though the church was closed, we gathered, we encouraged, and according to scripture, we worshipped.
The third truth we learned during the quarantine is Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” As we gave, God filled us with the peace, joy, and strength we needed to handle our own struggle and meet our own needs.
I want to reference John Walton again. In one of the episodes, John Boy asks his dad why he does not go to church. I cannot quote the dad but he tells his son that he thinks God is more concerned about how we live and treat others. Now, I do not know if John Walton knew Jesus and I do believe attending church is an important part of our lives as Christians, but it sounds to me like Mr. Walton knew something about James 1:27. Believer, true worship is caring for others.
Romans 12:1 adds, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
May we live a life of worship.