Many years ago, a man had grown upset with some things within his church. As a result, he made a choice to disconnect from other members and refused to be a part of any of the church’s gatherings. After a while, on a cold evening, one of the man’s friends knocked on his door. The disgruntled church member eyed him suspiciously and growled, “If you plan to try and convince me to come back, you are wasting your time.”
“I promise I won’t say a word about that,” replied his friend. “I only want to sit with you for a while.”
Begrudgingly, the man gestured for him to take a seat. Sitting by the fireplace, they chatted about the weather, family and politics. At one point in the conversation, the guest reached for the fireplace tongs, lifted a single, glowing coal from the hearth and placed it by itself, away from the other coals. As they watched in silence, the ember slowly turned from orange, to red, to grey, to black. Then the guest picked up the cold coal and dropped it back into the heart of the fire. Within moments, it began to glow brightly again.
The gruff look on the first man’s face melted into a soft expression as he nodded. “I’ll be back on Sunday,” he said gently.
For our church, as well as many others, we are in a season when we can’t meet in our large group settings out of a need for safety, but this does not mean we are disconnected from each other. For a little while, we must be creative with how we keep each of our “coals bright.” We will continue to meet together virtually with our online services, some of our groups will be meeting via FaceTime or Zoom, and last week, as a few of us gathered in our Small Group, one of our members who is visiting out-of-state met with us via smartphone. Even our Easter service may look different as we plan to create a drive-in experience. We must understand that the choice to disconnect from others is a choice to grow cold.
Let’s remember: Church is not where we go, but who we are. We must not limit ourselves to the (non-Biblical) idea that we can only worship and connect in one building at one time or else it “does not count.” God is still God; we are still the church. We don’t check out simply because things look different or our usual way of doing things changes. We do want to meet together in the same place, and we look forward to the day when we can do that again freely, but this season does not mean we take a break from connecting with one another.
Today, let’s ask God to deepen our connection with each other as a church as we follow Jesus and grow together.
- God would give us a desire to connect with others during this season and that we would resist spiritual isolation. – Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
- We would recognize that we are together as the Body of Christ in every situation. – Romans 12:5 So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
- We will know that the presence of Jesus is among us anytime we come together, even if the format may be different. – Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
- Church members the world over will continue to live out a life reflecting full devotion to Jesus and will grow deeper in him during this season. – Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”