There is a difference between genuine faith and actual stupidity. Sad to say, but the Body of Christ has both.
There is an argument on both sides of this coin
The difference between faith and risk is a fine line.
The Bible reveals times where God led His people to take certain risks, and they came out on top.
The story of the four lepers is a perfect example. These men were sitting behind walls in a safe city but had no food. They took a great risk and left the safety of the city.
If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.” (II Kings 7:8, NKJV)
This story ends well for the lepers, and God leads Israel into freedom from their enemy. But, if the lepers would have died, the people would have concluded this was a stupid decision.
Florida pastor arrested
A leader in Florida recently made a poor decision that resembled stupidity.
A mega-church pastor in Tampa, Florida was recently arrested. Tampa’s sheriff’s deputies arrested the evangelical pastor who has continued to host large church services despite public orders urging residents to stay home to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said they charged the pastor with two counts: unlawful assembly and a violation of health emergency rules. Both are second-degree misdemeanors, Chronister said at a press conference Monday.
Wisdom and integrity are vital
It is vital that pastors act with both integrity and wisdom in these times. Everyone is watching. And the haters are ready.
There is a fine line between genuine faith and reckless behavior. This pastor acted recklessly and made the wrong decision. He might have meant well, but it did not end well. The pastor’s decision was reckless.
“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk,” Chronister said at a news conference on Monday, “and put thousands of residents who may interact with them in danger.”
Pastors that lead congregations must find clarity
When lives are at stake, clarity and transparency are a top priority. All pastors must distinguish the motive of a decision.
Was this pastor seeking the attention of the world? Not sure. But if wrong motives drive our decisions, we will reap the wrong results. Pastors are responsible for others’ lives. Drawing a line in the sand is fine when the decision affects only you. This decision was about the life and death of an entire community.
Pastors serve all people and not just their congregation. Christian leaders must get their heads out of their four walls and wrap their minds around their city. Sincere prayer and strong consideration must accompany decisions that affect hundreds and thousands of people. It is imperative for all pastors to weigh the consequences of their decisions.
Every pastor needs strong advisors. Another idea is to make a call to your local Mayor or City Manager and ask for advice.
Authority is of God
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (Romans 13:1, NKJV).
The scripture is clear regarding how spiritual leaders relate to governing authorities. Christians are to follow the authority of their local and government leaders. There are exceptions. If leaders of states and cities violate the scripture, then Christians have a recourse. If a Governor makes a decree (because they hated Christianity) that Christians can no longer hold services, we have every right to challenge that decision and act accordingly.
Why? Because God tells us to gather. God’s law is higher than man’s law. The pastor in Tampa had no legal grounds to support his decision. He also had no scriptural reasons to disregard the orders from the local authorities. The authorities in Tampa were not violating or disregarding the scripture in any manner.
So, they called them and commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. (Acts 4:128–20, NKJV)
Pastors and Christian leaders must be wise.
There is a way to obey the authorities and stand in faith.
Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:5–7, NKJV)
This is paramount for the church in these times.
A portion of this post was first posted on Medium.