Elders and Decisions
Chris' Corner - Sunday, March 22, 2020
The elders did not make their decision to suspend our Bible studies and worship services in haste or out of fear. They came to their conclusion after hours of discussion and prayerful thought over a period of days. It was based on a deep concern for the health and well-being of our members. It should not be regarded as bowing to the demands of the government over the commands of God as in Acts 4:19 and 5:29.
When there is a conflict between the authority of God verses men, we must obey God. This is clear. Our obedience to His authority takes precedence over all other authorities. In Acts 4 and 5, the Jewish high court was demanding the apostles stop preaching in the name of Christ or by His authority. This is a far cry from the situation before us today.
The numbers presented by health authorities for public gatherings has been changing with each passing day. The elders saw this as an indication of the seriousness of the risks involved for coming into contact with a potentially deadly virus, not a mandate obligating the church to comply. The concern may not be for ourselves because we're younger or otherwise healthy, but for others who may be affected by our travels and contacts.
We should not become fearful or panic in these extreme times but continue in prayer to God who sees all things and is still in charge of the affairs of this world. Regardless of what happens we need to show compassion and love for others, both in what we say and do.
Pray for our elders and the tremendous weight they carry on their shoulders. They will have to give an answer to God for the decisions they make on our behalf. Paul wrote, "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17).
We should thank God every day for Roger and Bob who are concerned for our spiritual and physical well-being. As Paul admonished, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
There are two things emphasized in these verses. The esteem we hold for the elders is coupled with the command for Christians to cultivate a spirit of peace and harmony with the elders and within the congregation. We shouldn't argue and fuss with the elders. This generates division and strife. We all have differing opinions about expedient matters and how they should be done. We need patience and forbearance as we work together in the kingdom. We all have a responsibility and obligation to be at peace with our brethren.
"Therefore, let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another" (Romans 14:19). Paul continues, "with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2-3).