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This is the first part of a two part series, originally published at Fight of Faith Blog

I may be a day late and a dollar short, but I have heard many people say that they are going to avoid certain gatherings due to the chance that they might get sick. They are immunocompromised. Recently, I received an email indicating that a family member will not be at my grandmother’s 103rd birthday because a friend staying with the family member is very susceptible to disease. Without seeking to castigate this family member (this person is acting in the best interest of a friend), how should we think about such things?

It is one thing to avoid gatherings temporarily when we are temporarily compromised. A woman at our church is avoiding our gatherings while she receives chemo infusions because they drastically reduce her ability to fight infection. She has the blessing of the pastor and the elders. Especially because she says she will be in the front row the day her system is up and running. But what about those who will be compromised indefinitely?

Well, for Christians, this seems to be a no-brainer. For the Christian, there is nothing better than being in the presence of the Lord, with His people, hearing His word, and singing His praises. Indeed, this is a foretaste of heaven that non-Christians cannot and do not enjoy (which is why they would not like heaven if they were to go!). I do not think it is a stretch to say that every single Christian would say that their second-best blessing—after being with God and His people—is family.

So, if Christians avoid family gatherings and church because to do so makes them vulnerable to death, we should ask them, “What are you living for?” If the two best things in your life are barred from you, what is the point of your life? Your cats at home? Your stuff? Dinner out of the microwave?

This is not to be mean or arrogant. Maybe these people have never thought about that question, or perhaps they have a good answer I never thought of. But it is worth pondering, for them and us, what is the point of life if we cannot enjoy God and the families He gives us? Furthermore, if enjoying God and our families makes us susceptible to death (via contracting some disease), is not that just a win? Will we not be reunited with our lost family members, meet new ones, and see Jesus face-to-face? If we can answer the last two questions in the affirmative, it follows that even permanently immunocompromised Christians should be willing to risk their lives to worship and fellowship. If they live, they get to enjoy the best things in life. If they die, they get to enjoy those same things, but better. Attending church and family gatherings as a permanently immunocompromised Christian is the wisest thing you can do because it will always be a win-win.

Of course, death is a possible result for the immunocompromised who go to church and family gatherings. But, the possibility of death should be considered an acceptable risk because the benefits are the best things about life—God and family. Life is simply not worth living without God, and it is very difficult without family. Remove both, and you have existence, not life. One might say that he avoids church and gatherings because he does not want to die, but we must ask in return, “What are you living for?” Whatever the response, it will not convince many (other than non-Christians!) that it is worthwhile. Indeed, under such circumstances, it would be hard to answer the question, “What are you living for?” because whatever the response may be, it is likely a form of existence, not life.

Again, I am not saying we should never avoid gatherings to protect ourselves and others. Sometimes we should avoid gatherings. But that avoidance should always be in the interest of more gatherings later. When we are temporarily immunocompromised, we should avoid gatherings to live to the point of being non-immunocompromised. When we get to that stage, we can enjoy more gatherings. If you will last 15 weeks at church while immunocompromised then die, staying home 15 weeks, recovering, and then enjoying 15 years at church makes more sense.

But if the game plan is to avoid church until death, we are already there. 


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