As we move toward resuming in person corporate worship. The priority for each and every Ashland attender must by our own hearts. Remember as the prophet Jeremiah declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 Therefore, we must be first and foremost concerned with our heart before we worry this the thoughts and actions of others. Here are some verses and application to help us do this very thing this week.
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. – Ephesians 3:6
- A Gospel Opportunity – Differences about how we should resume in person gathering provide Satan with a great opportunity to destroy our church. We, however, must see it as an opportunity to display gospel unity our church. Remember the gospel doesn’t alleviate our differences. The gospel binds us together despite our differences. The power of Jesus is most vividly on display in the church when we choose to be united in His gospel instead of being divided by our differences. Remember this is spiritual warfare. Cling to the gospel. In doing so we’ll be clinging to one another!
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4
- Consider Others – For weeks we have been inundated with plenty of information about our current crisis. We all evaluate this information from very different perspectives. Some hear warnings and immediately worry about their personal health. Others are most concerned with the safety of their loved ones. Many are frustrated by the economic effects on their personal businesses or the companies for which they work. Some have lost their jobs. Others have sunk into deep depression from isolation. We have plenty of young adults who have missed graduations and are still reeling from the loss of athletic opportunities over the last few months.
- If we are truly a family, we must be mindful of each of our brothers and sister’s unique perspective. Take a moment to try and consider the vantage point from which others in our church family see and feel the current crisis. Then choose to take specific steps to not only think of others but to actually serve those who see things from a very different perspective than your own.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. – Proverbs 16:18-19
- Reject Pride – While we are all encouraged to think, formulate, discuss, and even have healthy debates over the issues before us. It is foolish pride for any of us to claim we have an inside track on all that has and is going on or what the future holds. To be cavalier with our views at this moment lacks grace and love for our fellow brothers and sisters.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. – Romans 14:4
- Avoid Legalism – Over the last nine weeks we have been given many rules and guidelines for health and safety. The nature in which the guidance has been given has caused us to develop personal convictions over the health and safety of others. Understand this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, moving forward in unity will require all of us to guard our hearts from condemning others who do not share our exact same convictions. Please strive to refrain from a judgmental attitude that evaluates and condemns others actions.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
- Do what you do for God’s Glory – The gospel cleanses our conscience of all guilt before God. In Christ, this reality is true at all times. We must strive to live our lives free from the condemnation of God’s judgement.
- At this time, we are all making many really important decisions. We are responsible to make these decisions before God. We will not all make the same decision. However we must all be encouraged to choose the best format for worship and fellowship free from guilt and condemnation in Jesus.
- We have tried to give as many options as possible. Choose what’s best for you and your family and live with a clear conscience before God. Just do whatever you do to the glory of God first and foremost.