Today I had the opportunity to do an on camera interview with the local ABC affiliate and Mrs. Jackalyn Kovac (the reporter) who happens to call me pastor. Today (Friday 12-23-16) the FBI and DHS issued an advisory of sorts regarding threats against some Christian churches in the US during the Christmas holidays.
The presenting question is “Will you meet for worship on Christmas, and will you do anything differently?” The real question, I believe. is slightly deeper: “Should Christians avoid worship out of fear?”
Let me preface the next few remarks by stating that I am by no means being cavalier in my response here. I have a military and law enforcement background…meaning I always look in the shadows and keep my head on a swivel. So when I say that Christians should not fear…that statement feels odd in my flesh…but it is still accurate. Christians SHOULD worship together this and every Christmas!
So, how should Christians think of threats against churches in some isis memo?
- Globally, Christians face threats like this one every day. In Nigeria and surrounding countries, Boko Haram has killed thousands of Christian and millions are displaced. Persecution and suffering for believers in the Sudan are unconscionable. In India, churches are burned, pastors arrested and beaten and their families abused over the gospel.In the first century, Jesus Himself was arrested and crucified, all the while being told by the authorities that did it…that he was not guilty of any crime.
- None of this “danger” and persecution surprised God. It was into this hostile world that He sent His Son, who’s birth we celebrate during this special time of year.
- Jesus offered His followers this as encouragement. He said, “A disciple is not above His teacher. It is enough that a disciple be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40) ” What was Jesus “like?” In the face of persecution and suffering, Jesus manifested the love of God toward people that were unloving toward Him.
- Frankly, Jesus never promised Christians safety, only peace in the midst of the storms of life. He said in John 16:33 that in Him we would have peace. “In the world we would have tribulation but that we could take courage because He had overcome the world.”
Honestly, as a church, we are not foolish. We have security procedures and processes in place. Every responsible church does. We are vigilant out of an understanding of our responsibility, not as a response to fear. If fear could stop the work of God’s Kingdom, the expansion of His message, it would have done so several times over the last 2,000 years.
The story of Christmas is that God sent His Son into the world so that the world could know love and a relationship with God and peace that surpasses understanding. So, we worship. We will do so Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and to God be the glory!