It has been over three years since Covid-19 was first reported in the U.S.A. January 20, 2020 was the date of the first lab-confirmed case in the United States, according to the CDC (CDC Museum Covid-19 Timeline, cdc.gov).
Here are a few reflections on my observations as a preacher.
- It is easy to misuse scripture. Care is needed.
Someone asked me to preach a lesson on “Drink ye all of it” (Matthew 26:27 KJV). The person was concerned about germs. A partially drank from cup could be confused for a non-drank from cup. It then could be drank from, and germs passed. I can appreciate the concern for safety.
However, this is a misunderstanding of the passage. “All” does not refer to the contents of the cup, but to those addressed. (1) In the Greek, an adjective must agree with the word that it modifies in case, number, and gender. “All” is nominative, plural, masculine. “It” is genitive, singular, neuter. Consider these comments, “It (all-B.H.) does refer back to ‘drink’ because ‘drink’ … is a second person plural verb (the pronoun “ye” or “you” is inherent in the Greek verb B.H.). In turn ‘drink’ refers back to the disciples when Jesus gave the cup to them” (“Is ‘Drink from it, all of you’ an accurate translation of Matthew 26:27? ,” lavistachurchofchrist.org). (2) Consider how others translate the passage: “Drink from it, all of you” (NKJV, NASB, NIV). “Drink of it, all of you” (ESV).
Care is needed. Before we apply a scripture to a situation, we should be careful to make sure that we understand the passage. We are told “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV). Consider some other translations: “handling accurately the word of truth” (NASB); “rightly handling the word of truth” (ESV); “correctly handles the word of truth” (NIV).
2. It is easy to misunderstand others. Patience and love are needed.
Someone intentionally avoids getting too close and shaking hands with people with health issues. There is concern over making the person ill. However, this can easily be misunderstood as lack of concern. He is aloof and unfriendly. He did not shake my hand.
Love is needed. Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). We need to be “bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3).
3. It is easy to forget why we come together. Focus is needed.
I have heard the stories more than once. Someone, while making announcements, leading singing, or preaching gives some unsolicited medical advice, or opinion on Covid. This offends a visitor or member who leaves angry.
We all have opinions on many things. We have political opinions, financial opinions, investment opinions, medical opinions, sports opinions, fashion opinions, entertainment opinions, ad nauseum. Someone has said, “Opinions are like elbows, most people have a couple of them.”
It is important for us to stay focused. When we come together, it is to worship God (Ephesians 5:17-20 cf. John 4:24), remember Jesus’ death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Acts 20:7), and edifying one another (1 Corinthians 14, especially verse 26; Hebrews 10:24-25). Let us not get distracted from what should be our focus.
It is also important that we be longsuffering with one another (1 Corinthians 13:4). Love and patience are needed in order to keep the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.
4. It is easy to let weeds grow. Weeding is necessary.
Attendance patterns have changed in many churches. Involvement has also changed in many churches. It seems that some are now content to do little more than attend on Sunday morning during the worship service (no Bible class, no fellowship outside the assembly). Most are still busy. However, priorities seem to have changed.
Jesus said, “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:14-15). Let’s be the good ground.