I have been a staunch supporter of the lockdown imposed on the country to stem the spread of the rampaging coronavirus, alias COVID-19. In fact, I had canvassed for its extension till the scourge is sent back to sender. That is still my stand.
One thing baffles me though, that is the fact that while easing the lockdown, places of worship, especially the churches, remain under lock and key, whereas markets are opened. I recognise that the markets were opened so that people could restock basic needs. However, I do not understand the rationale of still keeping places of worship, which are immeasurably more organised, under the slammer. Unlike church service, market is a nebulous and disorganised mass of people milling together like an aimless flock of sheep without a shepherd.
Even easing the lockdown for some days or hours does not add up. Is it that we have a way of sending the virus on break during those intervening hours or days or what? It seems this is misplaced because Nigerians don’t seem to understand the lurking danger staring humanity in the face, considering the chaotic occurrences in banks, on the streets and marketplaces since the lockdown was eased in those places.
It should, however, be stated that, if keeping the churches shut is for ulterior motive, as is being speculated in some quarters, it has already failed. Let nobody be deceived; the church of Christ can never be silenced; can never be caged. It is for the good of all and the nation that nobody dares touch the tail of a tiger – dead or alive; the potential danger is unimaginable.
However, it should be tolerable if continued lockdown of places of worship is for altruistic reasons. The church is actually not confined within walls. The walls are only necessary because we are enjoined not to forsake the assembling of the saints of God. However, if constrained physically, the church will still flourish because it is a spiritual movement. The anointing or power behind the church works in the spirit but the impact is felt physically by both its lovers and haters. During the early church, and even in contemporary history, evidences abound where persecution could not stop the spread of the gospel.
Though the markets are opened so that people could restock essential goods, assuming that the church is not essential at this moment is a great disservice to humanity. The church has been instrumental to bringing succour to many troubled lives and straightening crooked paths that would have caused trouble for the nation. Despite the harm done to the church by invading locusts, the church is still what it has ever been – an unquenchable blazing light exposing and extinguishing darkness wherever it lurks.
We need to truly understand, however, whether what is at play now is persecution or paranoia. Is it that the government is confused and overwhelmed that it does not think through policies before enunciating them? Of course, nobody, not the government wants COVID-19 to break out in our churches. Under normal circumstances, this is impossible but considering the state of the church since the locusts came, I am not so sure all the churches are still under Divine cover. Many have wandered away, going after mundane things and thereby exposing the church to mockery. Nevertheless, I pity those that ridicule the church for whatever reason but pray that they be forgiven because ‘they know not what they do’
It is my considered opinion that the church should not confront the government. If at all, let the churches use this period to go for self-healing and come back stronger and better. We can embark on chain prayers, if our petty squabbles and contest would allow us, and still make impact and even bring government to do our bidding. The problem of the church is that we have wandered away from Goshen. For us to thrive as a church, the Body of Christ, we need to bring back the overhanging glory cloud fast. Enough of this jeremiad and spiritual seppuku; God is not mocked.