Live by Faith, not Fear, and Practice Wisdom
(Editor's Note: ConnectLocal spent time this morning attempting to contact area churches to find out if there were any changes to their services, schedules or programs due to Governor Kemp's COVID-19 address yesterday. Contacting churches on a Friday is not the easiest task, but we are still working on that. First Baptist Church, in response to our inquiry, took the time and effort to draft the following email that includes both information about changes in practices and policies at First Baptist Church, and a message I thought It was something well worth presenting to the community.)
It is our prayer that this letter will provide you with assurance that we, as a church, are taking the matter of COVID-19 seriously. Much of the attention surrounding the coronavirus falls into two categories: fear and anxiety, or indifference.
Instead of fear, we’re called to live by faith. At the same time, as opposed to indifference, we’re called to be wise and love our neighbor. This then, should be our response to the Coronavirus: Trust God, Don’t Live in Fear, and Be Wise.
Take this opportunity to read Scripture, and remember that nothing catches our Heavenly Father off guard. The same God that spoke the world into existence in Genesis 1 is still in control today. Unlike anyone else in the world, the more you know about God always leads to trusting Him more
We don’t know what tomorrow brings, but we know the God who goes before us. We don’t know what we’ll walk through, but we know the One who will be with us, and in Christ we have the privilege of calling him “Father.”
.Don’t Live In Fear.
Time and time again throughout Scripture we are reminded to not live in fear. This is something we all need reminding of, especially at a time like this. Look at the verses found in 1 Peter 5, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Who you cast your anxieties on makes all the difference. God is reminding us to cast our anxieties on Him, because is the only source of peace. Take the time and read Mark 4:35-5:43, and you will be reminded that we serve a God who has authority over, creation, demons, sickness, even death, and that is the God “who cares for you.”
When the medical community makes recommendations for safety procedures, we would be wise to heed their counsel. We would be wise to heed the counsel of those whom God has gifted in his common grace with sound knowledge and wisdom, with skills refined by the God-given practices of work and study.
We’re called to be wise as we continue to live out the implications of our faith:• Loving our neighbors as ourselves;
Caring for those in need;
Working to provide for our families and to have something to share;
And, as we’re able, to not neglect meeting together.
There may come a day where we, as a church body, need to take a break from the last of these. There may come a day where we would be wise to pause from meeting together as the church for a short season. But even if that day comes, my prayer is that we can continue to live out these other implications of our faith, as well as all the rest that God’s Word prescribes.
With this being said, we feel as though following these recommendations is both wise, and the best way to love your neighbor at this time.
If you or a family member has had a fever or other symptoms in the past 24 hours, please stay home until you are completely well; (including being fever-free for at least 24 hours). Even if you feel strong enough to come, please see this as a way that you can love your neighbor.
Practice common cleanliness steps to fight the spread of any virus.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
Use hand sanitizer; we have added 4 sanitizing locations thoruhout the church, and we encourage you to use them.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
If you have traveled out of the country, or to any high-alert areas within the United States, please consider refraining from attending church events until a 14-day time frame has been observed.
Wave, and don’t shake hands, as a form of greeting. Customs are hard to break, but for the sake of neighbor-love, for the time-being let’s refrain from shaking hands.
Until the situation changes, we will change how we do the offering time at First Baptist. Instead of passing the plates during the service, offering plates will be held by our deacons or ushers at each exit following the Sunday morning service. Additionally, you can always give online at fbctoccoa.org and select the giving tab.
If you are someone who falls in an “at-risk” category, please use discretion as to whether or not you attend services. While we are taking the necessary steps for precaution, if your doctor advises you to stay at home, please follow their medical advice. If you find yourself in that category and need assistance (groceries, help, etc.), please let us know. We would love to serve you.
As a continuation of our normal practices here at First Baptist ,we will be certain that all necessary areas are sanitized in between services and activities here on our campus.
Finally, please stay informed. Comprehensive and trustworthy sources of information can be found on the dedicated COVID-19 pages of CDC.gov and WHO.int.
With any new development that would affect our corporate gatherings or any events at First Baptist, we will let you know of those changes as quickly as possible via email, Facebook, and WNEG (and, hopefully, ConnectLocal.News). We will also, in the coming weeks, be posting our services live online if you are not able to attend.
In all of this, let us remember the words found in Philippians 4:5-7, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Trust God, do not fear, and be wise. May we continue to love our neighbors, pray for those making important decisions, and ask God to intervene.
With much prayer and love, Your FBC Ministerial Staff