Three Principles to Balance in Serving Caesar and Christ
Pastor John MacArthur led his congregation in worship inside Grace Community Church’s 3,500-seat sanctuary in Sun Valley, California, last Sunday. They met in violation of state restrictions stating, “Places of worship must therefore discontinue indoor singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of one hundred attendees, whichever is lower” (their emphasis)
Videos and pictures of the service showed the sanctuary filled to capacity with worshippers sitting shoulder-to-shoulder. I did not see anyone wearing a mask.
MacArthur said in a video statement, “We will obey God rather than men. We’re going to be faithful to the Lord and we’re going to leave the results to him.” He added, “We will not bow to Caesar. The Lord Jesus Christ is our king.”
According to Franklin Graham, officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have threatened MacArthur with “repercussions such as fines and even possible arrest.” Nonetheless, MacArthur states, “We will meet as the church of Jesus Christ because we’re commanded to do that. We will sing, we will pray, we will fellowship, we will proclaim the word of God far and wide.”
Commenting on churches that have chosen to defer in-person worship until January, MacArthur said, “I don’t have any way to understand that other than they don’t know what a church is and they don’t shepherd their people, but that’s sad. And you have a lot of people in Christianity, who seem to be significant leaders, who aren’t giving any strength and courage to the church. They’re not standing up and rising up and calling on Christians to be the church in the world as I said on Sunday.”
HOW GREG LAURIE’S CHURCH RESPONDED TO THE RESTRICTIONS
An hour away, in Riverside, California, worshipers at Greg Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship met in a white tent half the size of a football field to comply with state orders restricting indoor worship.