I want to lend my voice to the ongoing discussion about the government's decision to open markets while still having religious gatherings prohibited.
I am of the opinion that the relaxation of the lockdown in itself is not a very good idea and one that the government was pressured into making for economic reasons.
Nigerians are not adhering to the social distancing rule and they are not protecting themselves. A drive around town will confirm the state of mind of many Nigerians. Buses are jammed and crammed with people; the flurry of people in and around the open markets is extremely frightening. It is like it used to be - many are milling around oblivious of the unseen enemy lurking around. Sometimes I am forced to think that the only way to deal with these recalcitrant and rebellious people is FORCE. But I also don't know if this will be a good idea judging by the overbearing nature of our Law Enforcement officers.
With all the deaths recorded worldwide so far some people are still waiting to see someone they know die of Coronavirus before they will believe that this is not a scam. My prayer is that what happened in Italy won't happen here in our country. It is either our people are point blank ignoramuses or just simply stupid to see the way a lot of them treat this deadly pandemic.
Whether we like it or not Covid-19 has come to change our lifestyles - socially, economically and I dare say, spiritually. Many people have already predicted what will happen to mankind as a whole Post Covid-19. The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in a lot of our institutions - government and religious alike. It is therefore wise and very imperative to begin to position for change because there will be real change in the days ahead.
That said, I will like to address my own constituent (the church) in the light of the ongoing. Need I reiterate that no power, group or institution can destroy or prevail against the church, however hard they try (Mat.16:18). So, those who are stressing over the government's decision should relax, the church can't go down. The enemy has tried from the beginning of time to frustrate the plan of God for the salvation of mankind; and every time he has failed. That he would fail again is sure. History is on the side of the church and prophecy is in her favour.
Some have been asking, why wouldn't the church be open when markets are open? Is this not obviously an attack against the church? Shouldn't the government realise that when we gather to pray as a church tremendous power can be made available to bring an end to this pandemic? Having explored all human option that has failed in getting a solution to this pandemic, isn't it wise to explore spiritual solution?
Very valid questions I must say, but I am absolutely sure that there is no one attacking the church. The government is not in any way attacking us; they are only acting responsibly to protect us. What is really attacking a lot of us is our ignorance and the stereotype that our minds have been molded in.
What really is the church? Is it just a physical structure or building (a temple, synagogue or cathedral); is it a 'location' or a 'place' of gathering? The scripture is so clear about this that our body is the temple of God (1Cor.3:16). So if the physical structure is closed, worship should still go on in the real temple, undeterred. Many of our churches are doing tremendously well in keeping and sustaining fellowship through Online Churches; and it is commendable. This way we keep our fellowship with one another and with God intact.
I am fully aware that the atmosphere is really different when we all gather in one place to worship together and that is a requirement in scripture for us not to forsake the assembling of one another (Heb.10:25). But true worship shouldn't be just in the feelings and the emotional thrills we get; it should be that we are connected to God in spirit and in truth. To achieve this, Jesus clearly told the Samaritan woman by the well in Sychar, that the genuine worshipper does not require a physical place to offer true worship; but that the worship offered in spirit and in truth is what God is seeking (John 4:21-24). Acceptable worship can be done while keeping social distance. Prayers of agreement done remotely is as effective as corporate prayers.
Moreso, as it stands today a lot of the churches are reaching frontiers beyond what they originally could with the help of technology. That's one of the defining blessing Coronavirus pandemic has thrown on our laps. This opportunity should not be allowed to slip off our hands because that is the easiest way to make the gospel reach the ends of the earth. We will simply accelerate the coming of our King if the intensity to reach the ends of the earth with the gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ, is not relaxed.
I will like to enjoin all of us to raise a personal altar going forward, where we can enjoy personal fellowship with God in the study of the word, prayer and singing of Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to the Lord. I will encourage the church to actively engage her people and the world as a whole with the truth of God's word and continued charity to those who are vulnerable. I will encourage men of God all over to continue to pray for the restoration of peace and the safety of our people and land.
This too shall pass.