The first thing that we need to do is understand what is actually happening. I don’t mean that we need to understand the science (I’m not convinced that even the scientists are 100% there yet). What we need to understand is where we stand, so that we know how to walk. Despite the deep disappointment about the closure of church buildings for public worship, this is not a Daniel moment. What I mean by that is that we are not being forbidden from practicing our religion on the basis of religion. We’re not being told, as Daniel was, that the very act of worship is banned. What we are being asked to endure is a ban on social interaction on the basis of public gatherings being dangerous. We can debate the scientific basis of that ban, we can even enquire as to the legality of that ban, but what we cannot do is set ourselves up as having our religious freedom curtailed, we’re not. The basis of the decision does make a difference. So, we’re not being mistreated on the basis of faith (if you believe that it is a mistreatment), and we’re not being singled out because of what we believe.
This means that we should not be calling on the government to reinstate our public worship on the basis of freedom of religion. That’s plainly not the basis of our current lockdown restrictions. We can, and should, no matter our disagreement with the government on their understanding and implementation, accept the rules put in place for the common good in the manner in which they have been given – for the common good.
The second, and related thing that we need to do is to understand how we can work for the common good ourselves. We should be devoting our time and energy, our study, our prayers, and our worship towards seeking how to seek God and share God and to honour him in the current difficult days. The time and energy taken disagreeing with the state and discussing that would be better served in building one another up. Romans 14:19 says “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
As I’ve pointed out above, we’re not, in this case, suffering on the basis of our faith, but 1 Peter 2:20 is helpful:
“For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”
So, let’s stand firm and look to God, trusting in his providence, and seeking to live in him no matter what the rest of the world tells us about our rights. Let’s use every means possible to encourage one another, using walking in pairs, video and voice calls, messaging and sharing what has encouraged you, one with another. But most of all, as Daniel did, let’s continue to take to our knees and pray for this world and for one another. There’s no law against that.