During this pandemic, a number of businesses and functions have been shut down. Small business owners who have been categorized as “non-essential” may have to shut down indefinitely. Such small business owners have this as their only source of income. Unemployment is at an all time high. Many will have to start all over from scratch, not knowing when or where to begin.
What about our houses of worship or the local church? This entity has also been classified as a “non-essential” operation. Many Christians have been disturbed by this categorization because they see their local church as an essential part of the community in helping individuals spiritually, emotionally and, in general, their well-being. But after listening to a bishop address this, I do not blame the governor for categorizing the local Church as "non-essential." Let me explain.
Just about every pastor will have similar stories of parishioners, church attendees or members who “hit and miss” or occasionally visit their church. Many of these individuals will claim to believe in God or make every excuse why they do not attend regularly. The excuse sounds valid from their point of view, but would not be valid when it comes to missing work, school or even a court appointment. The local church, by the actions of the unfaithful, is a “non-essential.” Long before our governor categorized the local church as “non-essential,” the self-proclaiming believers in God already categorized it as such by their own actions. Had the local church been an essential part of their life, they would have valued it with their attendance.
As followers of Jesus, we read that Jesus regularly attended the temple or house of worship and was His custom, as it should be of those today who say they’re followers of Jesus (See Luke 4:16). The writer of Hebrews says we’re not to neglect these gathering, as some people do (Hebrews 10:25). The local church has been God’s method of His people congregating together on a weekly basis. If you think about it, God gives us 168 hours a week. The least you can do is give unselfishly a couple hours of your time to the local church. If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time to attend (Psalm 23:6; 27:4; 100:4; 122:1).
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David Vivas Jr. is the pastor at World Harvest International Church in Delano.