As a church staff team, we have been wrestling in prayer about how to handle the government's social distancing guidelines to have no gatherings of more than 10 people. In order to honor our leaders and President Trump's request, we will be postponing all gatherings this week. We will be doing a very special streamed service instead of our Sunday morning service, including worship, a message, and prayer time. You can watch and interact with the video live on our Facebook page. If you don't have a Facebook account, you can also watch it here on our media page. The video will be streamed at 10 A.M. if you want to interact live. It will also still be available for viewing and sharing afterward.
As a church family, one of our core values is walking in faith, with the expectation of miracles and the supernatural. This kind of faith often has to operate in direct opposition to what our eyes see and what the facts say. But there is another value which we hold that is greater, and that is walking in love. "Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV).
While many of us in our church family have been feeling no fear or alarm about the virus, there are many more people in our community and in our nation—especially those who don't know Jesus—who are very afraid. And they are afraid of some very real facts, such as people dying. If our church gatherings continue and our coffee shop stays open, that sends two very clear messages to our community: (1) we do not comply with our government leadership, and (2) we do not care if we continue to spread the virus and put others at risk. Both of those messages could permanently damage our witness in this community about the love of God. And that is something too costly to treat lightly.
In the Apostle Paul's day, there were arguments about something far less ominous than the corona virus: what type of food Christians ought to eat. As leaders at The River, we are choosing to apply this counsel to our current situation (we highly recommend you read the whole chapter, but here are the highlights):
One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables....If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died...So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Romans 14:2, 15, 22-23).
As President Trump has requested, we are encouraging our members to use discretion with social gatherings. Currently, government health officials are saying that the greatest issue they are facing is that young people are not complying, thinking older people are affected. This is resulting in younger people hosting and spreading the virus to older people. While we contend for the supernatural, we don't have to be foolish with things that we can also influence naturally.
As a side note, we are not viewing this request from the President as an attack on religious liberty. The health guidelines are only temporary, and they equally apply to sporting events, employment situations, and restaurants. We are grateful that our President is encouraging our nation to engage in prayer.
We will continue to take a bold stand of faith regarding our God's protection over us and our families (Psalm 91) and His healing ministry among us (James 5:14-16) as we actively pursue releasing His saving Kingdom in Montana and the nations.
We cannot encourage you enough to spend time in God's word right now. A great benefit of this whole situation is that it is giving us a very real glimpse of how prepared we are for harder times or persecution in the future. Let's seize the opportunity to grow and press into God! Be in prayer and worship. Pray for our government leaders, pray for our church family, and pray for the lost.
ALL CONTENT © 2019 THE RIVER, INC. UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.