The Word of God is not Bound

The Lord’s Day is fast approaching and churches around the nation are, once again, attempting to “do ministry” under the strange constrictions of Covid-19. Decisions regarding civil obedience (or disobedience) must be made alongside of the genuine concern for the welfare of congregants. Distractions abound as we juggle the criteria of spacing requirements, masks, and public singing along with the normal abnormalities of ministry. Ministry feels awkward and cumbersome. Oh how we wish for the good old days of 2019!

Lately I have drawn encouragement from the book of Acts. The apostle Paul poured out his life for the sake of the gospel only to be arrested on a false charge. He spent the following years under guard and being moved from city to city and trial to trial. Not the illustration of a fruitful ministry so often touted at seminaries. I would think Paul must have experienced discouragement as it became more apparent that release was unlikely and death awaited him. But if so, we can’t discern that from his writings.

One encouraging text is found in an epistle of encouraging texts – Philippians. Paul reminds the church at Philippi that while he might be bound, the Word of God is not! Apart from giving a defense at his trial, Paul did not get to preach publicly. His missionary travel plans were limited to the route he was taking to be put on trial at Rome. He had no money except for that which local saints might supply. In no way, shape or form was he in a position to start “a great work of God”. But despite the way God had used him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul had never idolized himself. He always kept in mind that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation and that it is the Word of God that is able to make us wise thereunto.

It would be easy to sit around thinking about how effective we could be in ministry “if only”. If only we could get through this Covid thing. If only our hands weren’t tied. If only my deacons would support me better. If only we had a better location. As though God’s power was somehow tied to my circumstances or my eloquence or my giftedness.

But the Word of God is not bound. In social isolation the Word of God is not bound. With or without masks the Word of God is not bound. In blessings or in trials the word of God is not bound. Paul was unimpressive in person, but the Word came in power. Paul was limited in his movements, yet his letters are still read around the world. Paul’s course was taking him from prison to prison, but his bonds in Christ were manifest to all.

So this week we must do what we do every week: deliver the truth of God’s Word. You may be delivering your sermon from an empty sanctuary or your living room or to a spatially distanced congregation. Just make sure it is the Word of God you are delivering and not your own wisdom. Don’t get cute. Don’t preach to tickle ears. Don’t change your content because some particular person showed up. Don’t worry about who is there or who is watching (or not watching) the live stream. Be faithful and preach the Word.

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