Summary: When you lose your Queen piece in chess, you are likely going to lose the game as well unless you are strategically prepared. The church has relied for centuries on its queen, the Sunday/Sabbath day Big Event. But what if pandemic or persecution takes away your queen? How will you then do church?
THE LOST QUEEN
“A lost queen can cost you the game”
Hebrews 12:26-28 “At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth, but heaven as well.”
I’m not Jerry Lee Lewis and it is not 1999, but I can tell you that a whole lot of shaking is going on! Our very way of life is being shaken from top to bottom—and the church is also being shaken in these pandemic times.
Our college chess team would sometimes practice with the Queen removed from the chess board because one must become more skilled and strategic in using the other piece players (rooks, bishop, knight, castle, and valuable King) you have on the board. If you lose your Queen, you are more likely to lose your game. A chess opponent knows if she can get your queen, it becomes much easier to defeat you without your best weapon. The Queen is the most versatile, agile and lethal piece when you are playing the game of chess.
Consider for a moment, the church in the West has relied on its Queen for most everything in its church life and ministry for three or more centuries. The Queen of the church is the Sunday or Sabbath service and the associated activities that take place when the people come together in large gatherings for praise, worship, fellowship, teaching, evangelism, education and discipleship. We gather our most people into our largest facility on weekly super-service. The weekly church gathering is the most powerful tool in the arsenal of most local churches. But what if you lost your queen?
We have put most of our eggs in our one big basket—the big weekly event! That convenient super-tool has been taken from us by pandemic and regulation to protect our people from the Covid-19 virus. (Let me make it clear at this point, that we want to do all we are supposed to do to mitigate, contain and wipe-out this virus as much as possible. We will abide by national and local government regulations and guidance as long as man’s laws don’t require us to disobey God’s laws.)
The American Church has made the Sunday/Sabbath large meetings the main event, the main thing in their efforts to be the church. It follows the American mantra that “bigger is better”. Is this the pattern to follow when we study the first-century church in the Book of Acts and in the epistles? Are these large gatherings in our “temples” man-made creations following our cultural patterns and values? Maybe it is now time to reexamine our patterns and practices and see if the New Testament model and teachings can instruct us through these massive changes that have been thrust upon us because of the Covid 19 pandemic and ensuing social/legal/financial changes we face. Is there a new normal that will emerge? What will the church look like when this viral crisis is over—if it does become over? When God is through shaking things a lot, what will emerge as Kingdom best practice?
I. THE BIG SHAKEDOWN
The writer to the Messianic Jews in Hebrews 12: 26-28 “At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth, but heaven as well.” The words, “Once more,” signify the removal of what can be shaken— that is, created things— so that the unshakable may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us be filled with gratitude, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.…”
God is shaking the earth right now. God is shaking the world’s great security and power systems and God is shaking His church as well. God says that He will cause a great shake-up in the world, so that the “shakable things”, things which are man-made, will be shaken down so that His “unshakable Kingdom” that has been given to us by Messiah may be preeminent and Messiah prominent. God is going to bring to naught that which man has created so that we have remaining what God has created for us. When we realize what the real purpose of the “great shaking” amounts to, the saints will “be filled with gratitude, and to return to worshipping God in acceptable ways and with reverence and awe!” God is looking for true worshippers (John 4:24) and God is shaking-out the fluff and the frill, like shaking a sheet to get rid of the bed-bugs!
God is shaking the earth in a mighty way today. Not since WWII have so many nations and peoples been as affected as is this pandemic. God is using an infectious plague of pestilence to shake-up governments, financial systems, financial markets, globalism, education, medicine, world order, and yes, he is shaking up religion—what there is left of it. We have become use to the POWER and SECURITY that our prosperity, our science and technology and our advanced way of life has given us. We value the world-given POWER and SECURITY and we devalue the WORD-GIVEN POWER AND SECURITY IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. We have exchanged the “truth of God for a lie”, as Paul describes us in Romans 1:25.