LEFC’s Position on the Governing Authorities and COVID-19

Dear Church Family,

We as your elder council understand that we are in very unprecedented times. Never before have we had to deal with something like COVID-19. Not only has it required us to quarantine, but it effectively shut down our economy for a time. Many of us thought this was going to be a short-term event that would allow us to quickly get back to life as normal. However, as more information has become available, health professionals and government officials have found themselves in the position of having to make hard decisions as it relates to the virus.

There has also been a lot of conflicting information being given about the seriousness of this virus. And with this information swirling around us many have found themselves asking whether these social restrictions and mandates are legitimate or right. Along with that, if these restrictions and mandates are not legitimate, should we still obey them.

With these concerns in mind, we wanted to give you our thoughts about these restrictions and how we believe we are called to relate to the governing authorities at this time.

1. Do we believe that COVID-19 is a serious virus?

We realize that there is a lot of conflicting information out there about the seriousness of this virus. However, we have consulted with health professionals that we trust, and do believe that it is good and right for individuals to be concerned about the spread and associated health risks of COVID-19 at this time. However, the Elders position on how we are to relate to the governing authorities is not based on what we believe or don’t believe about the seriousness of this virus. Rather, we are doing our best to make decisions based on the Word of God and how it calls us to live in relation to each other, and the authorities that are above us. For it is our desire in all things that the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be hindered but will shine brightly in our midst and the world around us.

2. What does Romans 13:1-2 teach us about the governing authorities?

Romans 13:1-2 says: [1] Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. [2] Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

From this passage we learn that we are supposed to submit to the governing authorities (V. 1a). The governing authorities have been put over us by God (V. 1b). That if we resist the authorities then we are resisting what God has appointed (V. 2). And, in our resistance, we may incur judgement (V. 2b). In addition to this, Paul even goes on in verse 4 to say that they are God’s servant for our good. In the same way, 1 Peter 2:13–14 calls us to the exact same kind of submission to authority when Peter writes:

[13] Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, [14] or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

Peter even goes on to write in verse 17 that we should honor the emperor.

These are important instructions from Paul and Peter given the fact that both were enduring a government that was actively opposed to Christianity. However, despite what they were facing, they believed it was good and right to obey the governing authorities and that obeying was for our good. Also, Paul believed that obeying these authorities was one of the ways that we are to obey God.

Therefore, we believe it is vitally important, whenever possible, to obey the governing authorities. They are sovereignly appointed by God, and our obedience to those authorities bring honor and glory to him.

3. What does Acts 5:29 teach us about the right time to disobey the governing authorities?

Acts 5:29 says: Acts 5:29 [29] But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men….”

Peter’s words in this passage were in response to the Pharisee’s threatening the apostles and telling them to not teach and preach about Jesus Christ. In this way, the early church was being targeted specifically for their belief in and teaching about Jesus Christ. Therefore, it was good and right for Peter to let them know that they were going to obey God rather than men.

Likewise, we believe it is good and right to disobey any local, state, or federal authority when they are trying to shut us down because of what we believe and teach. We will not allow any authority except God’s word dictate what we can and cannot teach. Nor will we allow any authority to unfairly alter how we proclaim our faith

4. Do the current restrictions during this pandemic give us permission to disobey the governing authorities?

The short answer for us is no.

We do not believe that we are being unfairly singled out as a church for what we believe and teach. Also, we do not believe that the restrictions that are in place are unfairly altering how we proclaim those beliefs. Therefore, we are okay, at this time, with the mask requirements, social distancing, and capacity limits. We are not being unfairly persecuted, and it is good and right to obey the authorities who are trying to protect communities and peoples from the effects of this virus.

We also believe that we are doing what is best for our church family while being a good witness to the culture at large. In so doing we are motivated to embody the words of Jesus when he said, “love thy neighbor as thyself,” so that the light of Christ would be proclaimed in our midst and to the world around us.

5. What about Romans 14?

Romans 14 lays out the reality that we are to not pass judgement on one another when we each hold different positions, especially on issues that are not clearly spelled out in the Bible. Does this mean we have a license to sin or go against God’s Word? No. But it does mean that well-meaning and Bible believing Christians can hold different views on these issues while respecting one another and not condemning each other or separating fellowship.

This is especially important during this time of pandemic and restrictions. Some will believe the virus is very serious and these restrictions are good while others will see it as not serious and these restrictions as a taking away of our rights. We believe that we each have the freedom to discuss and disagree on these issues, but must disagree in a way where we are not judging our fellow Christians nor are we putting a stumbling block of faith in their path. As Paul writes in Romans 14:13:

[13] Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Family of God, we hope that this helps you to better understand where we, as your elders, are coming from as we have been making decision about our church gatherings and the governing authorities during this time of pandemic. We know that our current setup is not perfect, but we also believe that God is using this time to show us his faithfulness while still building his church in enduring faith.

We would continue to covet your prayers during this time as we lead through these murky waters, and we would encourage everyone to be praying for those in authority over us. Pray that they would make wise and God honoring decisions as it relates to the virus and how we operate on a local, state, and federal level. Again, let’s also be people that discuss these issues with love and grace with the hope that we will build each other up in faith and that we, as a church family, will be a shining witness to the greatness of our God and savior Jesus Christ. And lastly, may the words of Paul guide us through this time when he writes in Colossians 3:14-17:

[14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If you do have any questions about what is contained in this letter, please contact one of your elders either by phone or in person, and we would love to discuss this issue further with you. God bless to you all and may the love, peace, and word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Sincerely,

Your Elders

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