Trusting church leaders in a pandemic

I continue to see grumblings about church leaders submitting to the government’s orders on occupancy restrictions and in-person worship, and people need to chill out before attacking their church leadership or the leadership of other churches. While pandemic mitigation policy debates have been fierce in the public square, it should not be this way in the church and between Christians.

This is not a post about specific pandemic mitigation policy from the government. At this point, that is less important than the need for unity in the church. (And by that I mean all denominations, and all particular churches.) There is a time when churches need to stand up against the civil magistrate’s orders, and a time when they need to submit. There is a time when, as the Apostle Paul did, we need to “appeal unto Caesar” by seeking relief through the courts.

But we should trust that those with authority in the church are prayerfully considering what is best for their particular congregations at this time, and are not necessarily giving into fear instead of trusting God. Just as the cult of COVID has been completely unreasonable in dealing with dissent, some of the “freedom” people have been unreasonable – especially in how they deal with their own churches and pastors.

Christian brothers and sisters, it should not be this way. In difficult times like these, Christians should be avoiding schism and division, not creating more of it. This does not mean we have to agree with every decision made, of course, but we should trust that they genuinely do have our best interests in mind – both of our bodies and our souls. After all, Scripture teaches in Hebrews 13:17 that church leaders watch over our souls, and making them do so with grief is not profitable for any of us.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been very stressful on all of us, and it has raised the temperature of our discourse in addition to raising the temperatures of people suffering from the virus. Before we attack fellow Christians as lacking faith or worse, let’s have some Christian charity.