8 Minute Read
Adversity brings out things often hidden in the heart. The coronavirus pandemic is exposing some dangerous things in an already divided ‘church’.
Before the pandemic and the subsequent lock-down, the church as we know it was already divided by three things.
Ideology – this is the division created by churches who follow conservative or liberal politics. Churches have lowered themselves to follow Democratic or Republican views. Many have become the mouthpiece for political candidates rather than the Kingdom. The result is a ‘church’ divided by religious groups bowing to worldly thoughts.
Race – In some ‘churches’ this is blatant as some pride themselves as catering to a specific racial group. Others speak of racial unity, but every week they worship in services predominately filled with one particular race. Some congregations are more integrated than others, but isn’t is sad we are still referencing today’s churches as predominately Black, White, Hispanic, or some other racial group.
Doctrine – At Antioch, the believers were first called Christians to identify them as separate from the world. Today, we call ourselves Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and the like to separate ourselves from each other. In the first century, the only thing that divided believers was geography. Today we camp around our doctrinal positions and defend them against intrusion from other belief systems
At Antioch, the believers were first called Christians to identify them as separate from the world. Today, we call ourselves Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and the like to separate ourselves from each other.
Even within the categories of ideology, race and doctrine there are deeper divisions too extensive to cover in this blog.
As this coronavirus pandemic has spread, it has awakened another line of division created by pride masquerading as faith. Many states have issued ‘stay at home’ mandates. Nationally social distancing has become a new phrase previously unheard of. This shuts down places where large amounts of people gather. Schools, restaurants, bars, casinos, shopping malls, factories, and of course ‘churches’ have been impacted.
n the midst of this, there are church leaders who have chosen to continue to have their regular services. I am not here to judge their decisions, but I do want to highlight a new form of division further fracturing the Body of Christ. There are three categories I have noticed in the past few weeks.
First, there are the ‘faith’ groups. These are churches who continue to meet as usual claiming their faith in God protects them from the coronavirus. Implicit in what they claim is that churches that do not gather are lacking in faith. Even within the churches that continue to meet, some of their parishioners chose to stay at home. Unfortunately, they found themselves being referred to as having a lack of faith, weak, or at worst disobeying their leadership.
The second group are the politically defiant. They believe the government has overreached its authority when churches are required to limit their gatherings. I have heard such proponents of this line of thinking claim a myriad of political views to justify their beliefs. Like the faith group, the politically defiant imply that those who follow anything suggested by the government are acquiescing to governmental control.
The third group are those who are following state and local guidelines. They choose to ‘social distance’. Because of this, the surge in use of some social media platforms has quadrupled in the last few weeks. Pastors who were never on Facebook before are now broadcasting LIVE every Sunday. ZOOM, Free Conference Call and the like have added thousands of new subscribers. Outdoor drive-in services are being held all around the country. In other words, this final group is looking for ways to ‘gather’ within the guidelines given. But this group is also succumbing to a form of division. Some are claiming that by following the social distancing guidelines, they are proving to be ‘wiser’ than those who don’t. In other words, they have subtly made themselves an elite group of people who have faith, understand government, but who use ‘common sense’.
The coronavirus pandemic has added more division to an already weak and divided church system. It really saddens me to hear one side demonizing the other.
Finger pointing proves that it is both structurally weak and far off its foundation in Christ. You may ask me, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” I don’t have a perfect answer to this, but one thing I do know, the growing divisiveness in the ‘church system’ created by this pandemic is not of God (1Corinthians 1:10-13). Something is amiss when all these fractions are claiming their view is the Godly response. Somebody, somewhere has missed it.
When we read Matthew 12:25, our focus is usually on the results of division in the kingdom, city and house. But I took note of how this passage began. “And Jesus knew their thoughts...” In John 2:24, Jesus did not commit Himself to those following Him because “...he knew all men”. And we know that the Word has the ability to discern between the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
It appears that the pressure of this pandemic has exposed the hearts of many in the church world. It has exposed those who are shallow, prideful, and fearful. We all need to examine ourselves, but more importantly allow the Lord to examine us (Psalms 26:2; 2Corinthians 13:5).
Where does the ekklesia fit into all this? I believe this pandemic is training ground for the emerging ekklesia – the Lord’s original intent for His people. Rather than taking political, religious or prideful views of our choices, we must sit at the feet of Jesus. When you consider the authority entrusted to the ekklesia to bind and loose – to prevail over hades – and to have use of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven – this is a perfect moment for the ekklesia to have impact. The ekklesia must learn to be the voice of the Lord in this difficult time. Is it possible? I believe it is
Don’t be blindsided by current events. Learn more about the ekklesia and God’s plan for you!
About The Author
Tim Kurtz is the Founder of The Ekklesia Center. The purpose of this blog/vlog is to explore subjects that show how the mistranslation of ekklesia to church has impacted the Body of Christ. He has served in ministry over three decades amd is the author of several books. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in SC Michigan.