We are no longer meeting on Sunday. Is that okay? If it is okay then what keeps us from deciding to keep doing it this way forever?
The answer is the difference between normative and necessary. What is normative when it comes to the assembly? Assembling. What is necessary right now? Find ways to do so from home.
Or let’s look at baptism. What is normative? Immersion. But what if all you had was a cup of water and a dying person…what would you do? Let them die without pouring it on them because you might sin to do so? Or would you pour it on them and hope for the best…leaning into the mercy and understanding of God? That is a very personal decision in very difficult circumstances that I hope none of us find ourselves in.
Normative and necessary don’t always result in the same conclusion. And what is necessary doesn’t need to create new norms. We fear the slippery slope of the necessary becoming the normative but sometimes you just have to do the best you can with what you have. That is where we find ourselves today. I believe God understands. Much of our difference on this issue comes down to our view of God and what we believe characterizes our Father in heaven – wrath or mercy. Really, it isn’t an either or…God can do both but I believe His predisposition to us is one of love and mercy. Remember, Jesus became like us and knows what it is like to go through difficult circumstances and the kinds of decisions that are involved in making these decisions as human beings.
Here are some words from John Mark Hicks that I think give us some peace about our present circumstances. The second video will premiere at 3pm central today.
The link is to the hymn “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy” above so I did not violate any country’s copyright laws. It was sung this morning in the Anglican Church and goes on to remind us of God’s mercy. Too many of us grew up hearing of God being like policeman lying in wait In the curve to get us. When the reminders are omitted of God’s love and mercy, it is easy to see God only as vengeful.