If someone were to tell you they were a football fan, how would you know?
- They would likely know something about the sport, understand certain terms, have a favorite team or player that they like.
- They might wear certain clothes – a t-shirt, hat, jersey – of their favorite team.
- They would watch football games whenever they could, even attend those games in person.
If they said they were a fan, but didn’t show any evidence of that fact, we would doubt their word. We might even call them a liar.
If someone were to tell you they were a Christian, how would you know? Some of the evidence might be similar:
- They would likely know something about the faith, understand certain terms, have a favorite church.
- They might wear certain clothes – t-shirts or a hat – that expresses something about their belief. Depending on the particular form of Christianity they claim, they might even have certain styles of dress that are required of them.
- They might even attend worship services, or church gatherings, whenever they can, even watching some on TV or the internet.
If they claimed to be a Christian, but showed no evidence of that claim, we might doubt their claim. We might even call them a liar.
How do we – the church – know who we are when we cannot do the things we are accustomed to doing? “I’m a Christian because I go to church every Sunday!” Not this week! Not next week, not Easter. How will people know I’m a Christian?!?
We can’t go to church but we can still be the church!
Through all this COVID-chaos, we are learning what Christians have known since the beginnings of the movement. Christians were first called people of “the Way” (see Acts 9:1-2). You know when scripture first calls them that? When we learn that Saul was chasing them down to arrest them. Even under great persecution, those who believed in Christ had a distinct way of life.
How do folks know we are Christians if we can’t do the things we normally do to show our faith?
In a time of limited activity, limited connection, the way we perform those small acts of connection matter tremendously. The qualities of faith, hope, and love become even more important than they were pre-COVID.
I do not know when this will end; but, I do know that whatever I am able to do amid this isolation – walking around my neighborhood, conducting Zoom meetings with my congregation, patronizing a local restaurant by ordering take-out, handing out food at my church, or taping a worship service to be broadcast later – I will do everything with an extra dose of faith, hope, and love.