The governments of many countries have requested or mandated that there be no gatherings of people during this time of instability due to the virus. The question has been debated recently, should we as Christians follow these guidelines and postpone our usual worship services or should we defy the ordinance of man to worship God in our chapels? As a body of believers, what example and message would we send to the world and our neighbors if we were to meet for worship in defiance of our civil government? Does it show devoutness to God or a stubborn, rebellious spirit?
On one hand, when Peter was forbidden to preach the gospel by the authorities, he responded, “We ought to obey God rather than men”
(Acts 5:29). Hebrews 10:25 reads, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” On the other hand, Jesus taught throughout the scripture to submit to those in authority. Paul, speaking of governments, stated in Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
Scripture clearly teaches that Christians are to be good citizens and to follow the ordinances and mandates of the government; this is not contingent upon whether you personally agree or disagree. If the government were to forbid preaching the gospel in an effort to curtail the message of Christ, as was in the case of Peter, Christians should heartily ignore the government mandate. Clearly, this is not the case or motivation with current governmental requirements in many cities to close the chapel doors for a short period. It is an issue of loving our neighbor enough to not spread the virus.
Christians have an obligation to be subject to the temporary ordinance of man in this present distress and use other avenues of community worship through digital means to connect with brothers and sisters in the Lord. Peter summed it up well in 1 Peter 2:13-17. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors….For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” —mws