In a panel at Liberty University, David Nasser spoke with Andy Stanley about the theological basis for being closed while other churches in the area, including Grace Community Church, stay open. Stanely responds:
There is a theological basis for this (closing down church until 2021) and this is where I part ways with some of those folks, John in particular, perhaps. I’ve never met John MacArthur, so, you now…all I know is what I’ve read, I guess, like most people.
“You should go to his home,” interjects Nassar, to a visibly surprised and uncomfortable Stanley who seems horrified at the idea.
John said some not so nice things about me, not by name, but he’s made some comments about those who have decided not to meet for the rest of the year. He said that we aren’t really a church and we don’t know how or don’t care about shepherding our people, so I’m like ‘wow that’s a lot from someone I’ve never met,’ but that’s ok.
Stanley goes back to the theme of “what does love require of us,” which is the basis for them shutting down. Stanely argues that ultimately it requires sacrifice for the community.
So again, I think the church always looks better when we are defending other people’s rights, rather than defending our own. The church always looks better when it is giving away, rather than demanding our way, and this is what Jesus modeled.
People on the other end of this argument, I keep hearing them say over and over ‘the Lord commanded us to meet. The Lord commands us to meet.’
He does not. He commands that we lay down our lives for our friends, that we do what’s best for others…even the Apostle Paul said this when describing Jesus in his letter to the Philippians, he said he who was equal with God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. In other words Jesus, this is amazing…Jesus never played the God card. He never said ‘ok by the way, I’m God,’ right?
And again to quote peter who dedicated his experience with Jesus to mark ‘for even the son of man’ – and we’re his body so remember this – even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life for ransom for many.
So the local church as a representation of Jesus, this is a premier moment. this is a premier moment for the local church in American culture, and the question is what are we going to do with this moment?
And demanding our way, demanding our rights is antithetical to everything Jesus taught and everything Jesus did. So we think (not gathering until 2021) is an expression of Christ’s likeness.