These are interesting times. Recently on Twitter #IgnorantKenyans was trending in regards to Kenyans going to church even after the government advised against it. In light of this, I have come across some radical pronouncements from Christians regarding COVID19 and the Christian faith. Some are like, COVID19 shall not stop the church, but the church shall stop COVID19! In other words, we must go to church! People are saying that the government needs the church now more than ever! They also say that the government is giving instructions that are against the scriptures such as Hebrews 10:25. They say that we must continue to preach Christ and not fear man as Acts 4:26 says. Is this the right biblical position with all that is going on in Kenya today? Is the government against the church?
Wrong Interpretation of the Scripture
I thank God for the zeal and faith that African Christians have for him. The eagerness to preach and the confidence to believe in his word and what he is capable of doing. It is commendable for every Christian. The challenge with most of us is the unguided zeal which at times is based on wrong viewing of the scripture.
Some of the scriptures used against the government have been taken out of context. Hence, misleading to those who are entrusted to us for our shepherding. Acts 4:23-31 was the prayer of believers when they were being stopped from preaching the gospel by the chief priests and the elders. The leaders were set to end the preaching of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. On COVID19, the government has given a circumstantial order to protect the citizens as is their duty entrusted to them by God (Hebrews 13:17). They are not after stopping the church from preaching the gospel as it were in Acts of the Apostles. So the application of Acts 4:26 as stated above, is wrongly applied to our current state.
Paul discusses how Christians should act towards the government in Romans 13:1-7. We are instructed to submit ourselves to the government since God gives its authority. Disobedience to the government is a violation of God’s law. The scriptures also set boundaries regarding obedience. As we are called to submit to rulers and authorities (Titus 3:1), we are called to do good and not evil. The government is not asking us to do evil at the moment. They don’t want us to sin. Asking us to stay home and not meet at church is not them asking us to reject Jesus Christ. After COVID19 is over, we will continue meeting as usual. We don’t want to expose anyone to COVID19. When we expose those entrusted to us to the virus, then we are in total violation of the scripture (Titus 3:1-2). Titus 3:1-2 instructs us to do good, to be gentle, to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Exposing those entrusted under our care to COVID19 does not reflect Christlikeness.
Is quarantine a lack of faith in an all-powerful God?
Was God powerless against Herod when he asked Jesus parents to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)? We do know that God is all-powerful and able to stop any disaster from happening (Jeremiah 32:27, Genesis 18:14), but he opted to ask Joseph and Mary to escape to Egypt. It was not an act of cowardice against a human being. His character is consistent with his word. For the whole scripture to be fulfilled, then such a directive was necessary (Matthew 2:15). In Isaiah 26:20, God asked his people to stay indoors and hide until his wrath had passed by. This, again, should not be seen as inconsistent with the nature of God as we know him. There are some actions like quarantine that may seem like lack of faith, but in reality, this should not be used to measure once faith. Faith does not compete with a reason, but they complement each other. I agree with my former vice-chancellor that accepting Christ in our lives did not suck out our brains such that we became devoid of reason. In this season, we need to see the government call for quarantine as the voice of God to his people. He needs ministers of his gospel even after COVID19 to advance the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. And, to add to this, even the Bible says that Christians will suffer from the effects of sin on the earth (Romans 8:18-25). One of the effects is COVID19. Faith does not stop ALL effects from sin as we see clearly in Romans 8:18-25.
Meeting together during quarantine season?
The Bible says that we should not neglect meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing (Hebrews 10:25). It emphasizes the aspect of the fellowship of God’s people. How can this be effected during this season? Jesus sets a foundation of what a fellowship is. It is the gathering of two or more people that are gathered in Christ name (Matthew 18:18-20) that define a fellowship. This scripture does not mean that the prayers or worship of individuals are not effective. In Daniel 6:10, we find a man who could not be stopped in his lifestyle of worship and prayer. He continued to pray and worship regardless of the decree by King Darius. He knew that God answers prayers in private as much as those made in public. We need to worship God as individuals and families in our various homes. Our God is omnipresent and hears each time we pray. There is an emphasis of both public and personal spiritual disciplines in the scriptures. Worshipping God in groups and as an individual is equally valid. Jesus had a habit of isolating himself from the crowd to go for prayers (Luke 5:16). Consider this season as that which you have to focus on God as an individual. Praise God for a government which allows us to continue worshipping as individuals.
In conclusion, we should strive to have a better understanding of God from his word. We should seek to find his will in every circumstance and know that he is in control of every situation of our lives (Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 46:1). In our study of the Bible, we ought to be faithful and not just pick scriptures to radicalize people without a context for the verses we use. Let us be faithful to God and handle scripture faithfully (2Timothy 2:15). God institutes the government, and hence we are obligated to obey those in authority as Christians (Romans 13:1-7). Public and personal private worship are equally important and let us work with what God has provided for us in this season (Ephesians 5:16). Finally, let us act in love towards others by staying in our homes and not exposing our loved once to COVID19 (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).