As a Christians, there are certain things that encourage me in troublous times like this. When I saw on the news the other day, President Trump suggesting that Christians should be given room to celebrate Easter and that Church should be re-opened, I rejoiced at that. And that Tanzanian President, John Magufuli will forever be blessed: he locked down every other parastatal except the Church; that’s a whole lot of encouragement to me, for Light is prevailing over darkness.
An on the local news too, I saw that Churches opened on Sunday, 5th of April in compliance with the 20-persons directive of the Government to mark the all-important Palm Sunday. That was thrilling to me too, but I became afraid when I saw the announcement of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on that same day, directing all Churches to completely lock down for the next two weeks. I cringed on my sofa and my belly trembled. Who agreed to sign this death warrant on behalf of the Church?
Man is a social being and I believe that it’s in that understanding that the Government has given a directive that gatherings should not exceed the 20-persons mark for gathering is a part of our humanity: no man is an island like they say. And no better place to gather to express this aspect of our humanity than in Church for there, we not only have fellowship with one another but with The Deity of our Existence, The LORD JESUS. To see the doors of the Church open at least, even though we may not all be able to have the usual Fellowship keeps hope alive. So for a stern directive to come contrary to that, is a development that is not welcome.
Before now, I must confess that I have never paid attention to the activities of The CAN, primarily because I believe it’s a platform for Ministers and Preachers but somehow I have always believed that in the goings of the association, my interest as a Christian must always be represented well before the Government, and not only the interest of Christians but the interest of The Head of the Church, Christ Himself. And there have been works by this body too, that I have noticed and commend, like standing up for Christians in the Islam dominated North, when their Churches were been razed down and other things like national prayers. But the directive on Sunday is a direct opposite of what Christianity and Christ, our Head represents.
How did that idea come up in the Christian fold? The Church should be locked down but drinking parlours remain open? What becomes the fate of the believer? Did The CAN consider the timeline of the lockdown? For in the calendar of the Church, these two weeks mark the most important events in our story line: The triumphant entry of our LORD JESUS into Jerusalem signifying His Majesty and Rulership and coming Kingdom, and Easter: the death and resurrection of The LORD. Is another date going to be fixed for the Church to mark these events? Maybe sometime later in June or September, when the time that GOD has given through nature, the Time of Life is past?
I smell the breath of the Pharisees who in that day wanted to stop the people from crying, “blessed is He that cometh in The Name of The LORD!” “Hosanna!” “Blessed be The Kingdom of our Father David that cometh in The Name of The LORD! Hosanna in the highest!” What does Hosanna mean? “Save LORD!” When the doors of the Church are shut when they ought to cry save LORD, what does that spell but doom and irredeemable woe? And now, Easter, The Rising SON: The Resurrection of Christ and the hosts of saints, from that Thursday of The Great Exchange to The Good Friday where He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows and nailed our sicknesses to His Cross, including this Corona virus that CAN is afraid of; and His Hands were lifted up to spell victory for the Church. Saturday: He was down in the depths, lifting up the Everlasting Doors that they should no longer hold His children bound; shutting up death and hell, releasing its prisoners, the saints, and on Sunday, which is actually The Son’s Day, for before the S-U-N could rise, The S-O-N rose first and because of that every other thing in creation could rise; all was done to mark the within three days stretch, and He arose with the saints, with the Keys of hell and death, with captivity captive, with death and sin having been defeated and left behind an Empty Tomb.
In the day that marks the shutting up of death and hell, you shut the Church by your directive? What becomes the fate of the proselyte? On that day that marks the open triumph of our LORD, having made a public show of death and its hosts, you openly make a declaration to close the mouth of the Church that glory shouldn’t go to GOD? On the day that marks the event of The Reconciliation between GOD and man, you shut the Church? On the day that we ought to celebrate our release, you shut the Church? On the day the gates of hell were defeated and locked down, you lock down the Church? On the day that nature through springtime signifies the restoration of life back to mankind by The Blood of The LORD JESUS, you shut the Church?
On the event that marks the day our griefs and sorrow were taken away, you shut the Church by your directive? Who counseled thee thus? On that day that we celebrate the Gift of Life, you shut the Church? On that day that The Great GOD ought to sit down and take delight in the works of His Hands, as we remember His Love and Faithfulness, as we sing praise for until that day all creation was groaning in pain and not only has that pain been taken away, there’s a Blessed Assurance for tomorrow; for by that event we have hope for the Second Resurrection, but you shut the Church?
Has The CAN therefore represented Christ? Has The CAN therefore provided help for the Government? For the Church is The Light of the world, how can that Light shine when her doors are shut? The hope of the Government and the people is the Church: let every other thing fail, there’s a Rock that can never fail, He cleft at Calvary and when we ought to hide in Him, you lock down? Therefore where do we go for help now? Is this not crucifying Christ afresh? Is this not taking us to the pristine era, the dark ages, when Christianity was under heavy persecution? Is this not also alerting us ahead of a dangerous standing that will easily sell the Church out to the Antichrist? And the consequence of this directive is that the Light of the Church has been put out therefore the enemy has been given room to glory. It has shaken the very foundation of the Church and can the Churches ever recover from such a fatal blow? Can she ever stand upright again and provide hope for the Government and for the people? Can The CAN remedy this situation for when the doors are shut to life, death and hell can ride. And if a Church was shut at the Time of Life, can she ever rise up in The Spring Resurrection? To have shut the Church at such time is to join hands with the Romans to seal the grave that Christ should not rise!
It would have been better if every Church had a representative audience of twenty persons in compliance with the Government directive to mark these grand events that changed the history of humanity forever, than to lock down completely. I hope The CAN can wash her hands off The Blood of The LORD JESUS cleaner than Pilate did in that day for to stop creation from acknowledging Calvary is to stop the transmission of St. John 3:16 which will result in a perishing. But like David said for himself and for all believers, “I will sing of The Mercies of The LORD forever…” Happy Easter to all! Happy New Year to the Church!