Note: This is NOT a post about books, publishing news, or anything book-related. Please skip if you only want professional updates. Also, CONTENT WARNING for my talking about religion, specifically Christianity, and attending church during the coronavirus pandemic. So again, if you only want book updates, or if you don’t want to hear my thoughts on church attendance during a pandemic, please SKIP THIS POST.
I’ve been a follower of Jesus for over twenty years. I cannot remember the last time that I missed going to church on Easter. However, I won’t be going tomorrow even though my governor exempted houses of worship from the “stay at home” order. I have no conflict with my faith about staying home, despite some (thankfully not most) pastors claiming that “true Christians” should still show up at a physical church tomorrow despite the pandemic. Here’s why:
Over and over, Jesus commanded His followers to love others the same way they love themselves, and to do unto others as we would want them do unto us. I see the heartbreaking number of people dying every day, and I wish I could do something to help. I can: by staying home. I see nurses and doctors risking their lives to save patients stricken with coronavirus, and I wish I could ease some of their load. I can: by staying home. I see families torn apart from grief, and I wish I could do something to ensure that more families do not experience the same awful loss. I can: by staying home. To me, this is the least of the ways I can follow Jesus’ command to love others as myself, and to treat them the way I would want to be treated.
I also think that Jesus gave His followers a specific example of how to respond when someone urges you to do something recklessly dangerous as “proof” of your relationship with God. In Matthew 4:7-8, Satan told Jesus to jump off a high building to prove that he wouldn’t be injured, if he was really the son of God. Satan even quoted scripture to goad Jesus into this action. However, Jesus replied, “It is written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test” and he refused to do it.
That gives me another reason to highly disagree with those who claim that “true Christians” should physically go to a house of worship tomorrow (or on other Sundays during this quarantine.) Jesus didn’t say that “true worshipers” had to be in a physical church to prove their faith. In fact, He said “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” [John 4:23.] He also said that loving God and loving others summed up the entirety of the law [Matthew 22:37-40]. God can hear your prayers from your own house, I promise you, and if you don’t believe me, remember that the Psalms say that “before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.” God hears you before you even speak, let alone before you cross the threshold of a church.
So, fellow believers, let’s please stay home tomorrow because staying home will reduce the spread of this deadly virus, and reducing the spread is doing what is best for others, even if it isn’t what we’re used to doing on Easter, or what we would prefer to do.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this, no matter what you believe. And, to my fellow believers in Christ, a very happy Easter to you.