|Good Morning Everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “You have been set free”
Our Bible verse for today: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.” Acts 2:42-43 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “We are free to gather together”
During the recent pandemic we Christians here in the state of Tennessee never lost our right to gather together with other Christians for worship. Initially, at the beginning of the pandemic, when there were so many unknowns and our leaders were scrambling in their efforts to figure it out and to protect us all from this dangerous virus, our Governor did “ask” us to “voluntarily” suspend in-person services until healthcare and government officials could gain a better understanding of what was happening and how to control it.
We gladly cooperated with that effort. We did it voluntarily, not because we were compelled to. Our constitutional freedom of religious assembly was never infringed upon. Not in our state. Unfortunately, and sadly, the same wasn’t true in many other states. Some states compelled churches to close rather than asking them to. I believe that was an unconstitutional infringement on religious liberty and it violated Biblical principle as well.
God’s people must be free to worship. That’s what Moses told Pharoah was one of the reasons he needed to let the people go. It’s also the picture we’re reading about in the scene in Acts 2:42-43. There we’re seeing the early New Testament church, shortly after the day of Pentecost, gathered daily in Jerusalem for worship, study, prayer, fellowship, and ministry. At that time, they were still relatively free to do so. Shortly, the persecution would begin. When it did, many of the believers would continue to meet anyway and simply suffer the consequences. Many others would leave Jerusalem and go to other places where they could gather and worship in peace and security.
The freedom to choose to gather for worship is a non-negotiable. There may be occasions when we choose not to gather – perhaps because of personal illness, or maybe because of a weather event like a snow or ice storm makes it dangerous and so we chose to cancel church for the day, or perhaps even at the “request” of a government official in order to assist with an emergency situation of some sort. In such cases we can decide for ourselves to gather or not, but the freedom to gather for worship should not be infringed upon.
Throughout Christian history believers have often faced persecution for gathering, yet they have done it anyway and chosen to suffer the consequences. It happens every day in China. Believers are forced into what is called “underground churches” in order to gather for worship, while avoiding the authorities who are trying to prevent it.
For those of us who don’t face such persecution and obstacles, we should exercise our freedom to gather with other believers. We have Biblical instruction to not neglect gathering together (Hebrews 10:25); we have Biblical models for it (Acts 2:42-43); and we even have the freedom to do it. Why would be not?
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