During a coronavirus briefing, the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, told his constituents that “worship outside or worship online is still worship” and “for me, God is where ever you are. You don’t need to sit in the church pew for God to hear your prayers.” Now, few Christians would argue that God indeed hears our prayers regardless of where we are. But there’s great danger in a government official telling his constituents how and where they should worship!
It’s very obvious by the inconsistent mandates handed down throughout 2020 that religious freedom has been targeted—while strip clubs and abortion clinics are being allowed to remain open, but churches are being forced to remain closed or worship services are being forbidden while rioters have protested freely in the streets this past year. Many are using the unique situations of this pandemic year to attack Christianity and restrict religious freedom.
The great concern, of course, is the more those in authority tell the church what we can or can’t do, the more this opens the door to a greater loss of freedom, as we see in Communist countries. Such persecution could very easily happen in the USA—actually in many ways, it’s already here.
Persecution has been the norm throughout church history. And while we will continue to stand up and fight for religious liberty in this nation as guaranteed in the First Amendment, we recognize that God is sovereign, no plan of his can be thwarted (Job 42:2), he raises up rulers and brings them down (Daniel 2:21), and he often uses persecution to build and refine his church.
By the way, this North Carolina governor recently issued a “Gender Expansive Parents’ Day” in recognition of LGBTQ people. But will he honor Christians, rather than try to restrict Christian freedom?
As we move into 2021 and all the unknowns this year will bring, let’s pray “thy will be done” and boldly contend for the faith, doing the King’s business, until he returns, no matter the circumstances or lack of freedom to do so.