TO WORSHIP OR NOT TO WORSHIP: A REFLECTION ON CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
On the night of 15th March, 2020 when the President of the Republic of Ghana addressed the nation, he said things that many feared but were actually expecting. The number of confirmed cases had risen from two to six and there was the need for the State to implement some tough sanctions to maintain public health and safety since we are not in normal times. Among the various decisions to be implemented, one that has been trending since is the ban of public gathering, especially church meetings. For a country that prides itself as being a ‘Christian’ nation with 70% of the population professing Christianity, it’s strange to have the nation run a full month without any church service.
The obvious question one will ask is whether the State has erred in applying their constitutional mandate or has trespassed against the Laws of God. Both questions can be answered with a big NO. Pertaining to the first question, some Christians have rightly questioned why the State has banned religious gatherings but has allowed people to gather in night clubs and drinking spots. This is a fair question to ask, and perhaps the State may want to revisit this decision by applying the sanctions across board. But does allowing the operation of night clubs invalidate the decision to stop churches from meeting? Another big NO.
1 Timothy 2:2 - 3 (CEV)
Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Saviour. 1 Peter 2:13 – 17 (CEV)
The Lord wants you to obey all human authorities, especially the Emperor, who rules over everyone.You must also obey governors, because they are sent by the Emperor to punish criminals and to praise good citizens. God wants you to silence stupid and ignorant people by doing right. You are free, but still you are God's servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong. Respect everyone and show special love for God's people. Honor God and respect the Emperor.
Romans 13:1 - 5 (CEV)
Obey the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and he puts these rulers in their places of power. People who oppose the authorities are opposing what God has done, and they will be punished. Rulers are a threat to evil people, not to good people. There is no need to be afraid of the authorities. Just do right, and they will praise you for it. After all, they are God's servants, and it is their duty to help you. If you do something wrong, you ought to be afraid, because these rulers have the right to punish you. They are God's servants who punish criminals to show how angry God is. But you should obey the rulers because you know it is the right thing to do, and not just because of God's anger.
We are not in normal times, and in times like these there is a need that we all need to heed to one voice for direction. In Romans 13:1 – 5, 1 Timothy 2:1 – 3 and 1 Peter 2:13 – 17, Apostles Paul and Peter took time to educate the believers on their responsibility to the State and civil authorities. A summary of these three passages teaches:
· Secular leadership is an ordinance of God
· Secular leadership exists for the well being
· A true believer prays for the State and its leaders
· God expects believers to be obedient to civil authorities
· A believer’s loyalty to God is reflected in how he relates to the State
· It is God’s Will if believers are punished by the State for wrongdoing
In light of the above, what should be the attitude of the Ghanaian Christian to the ban of public worship.
· Pray that God will turn the current tide of the disease so that normalcy is restored as soon as practicable.
· The ban is for a month, within this period, God will not run away from the country. He will still be here for us to worship Him
· Believers should re-examine what the Church really is. Read more in the next article
· Prepare to live in worship to God as if there will never be church buildings to meet in again
· To act contrary to the directives of the State in this matter is clear hypocrisy, ungodly and a disregard for the teachings of the Bible