Enter at Your Own Risk
By Jim Stanley
My wife and I approached the doors of our church ready to go in and worship. Over the past few weeks, there had been various notices on the doors about how the church was handling Covid-19. It’s always good to keep folks informed but this past Sunday morning there was a new notice on the glass door. The font on the notice was large enough that it was easily read several feet away, “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!” My brain did a backflip and had a Matrix moment of “Wait, what?” Did my eyes reveal and my brain process what I just saw properly? My wife and I stopped to read the entire notice “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.”
There were instructions on how seating was being handled, where there were areas of social distancing, when the nursery would re-open, etc. Essentially it was saying that certain cleaning and seating protocols had been taken in the church (building) but the church (body) was also responsible for its own personal protection and it was the individual’s choice to wear a mask, social distance, shake hands, hug, etc. We could live with that “risk” so we opened the door and went in to a great time of worship both in song and proclamation.
Let’s put that warning into a hypothetical situation of what the future could hold.
ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK! We’ve parked the truck across the street as we don’t want anyone to damage it in the church parking lot. We wear plain, non-descript clothing to help us blend in. We wear floppy hats and sunglasses to obscure the face from facial recognition software that might be used in reviewing pictures from the service. We can’t stream the service anymore because it’s become incompatible with “the standards of Facebook, YouTube, etc.”
That situation paints the picture of how attending worship services in the not too distant future could have dire consequences. In that scenario, one truly does “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.” It sounds preposterous doesn’t it, or does it? When one reads the headlines from the past few weeks, it doesn’t sound as farfetched as it once would have.
You might question why I stipulated between the church building and the church body. It’s pretty simple actually. The church is referred to in Scripture (Romans 12; Colossians 1; 1 Corinthians 12) as the body of Christ and the building was often a field or someone’s home. There can be damage to the body but we’ve been given armor for its protection. The building can be damaged, as we’ve seen in the news, or even destroyed by idiocy, or by the government (not the US Government).
ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. Yes, I will.
Paul tells us we are called to be living sacrifices, and as such we shouldn’t fear. Admittedly sometimes that’s hard not to do. When the situation gets that bleak, look back at how far you’ve come in your growth in Christ. Without Christ in our lives, we should be terrified of what’s happening in our country. However, those in Christ can take comfort and know that God inhabits or is enthroned on the praise of His people (see Romans 11). A literal translation of that verse means that God is at rest on the praises of His people. If the world should come against us (body and building) but God is at rest, how much of a “risk” is it?