Giving Others Freedom To Worship

May 7, 2020 | Josh Akin

Coronavirus has caused fear and uncertainty in our community.  It seems the greatest struggle in our community is not medical but emotional.  We worry.  And with each worry God gives us a chance to learn to cast every care upon Him.  

Still, there is a strong sense of a return to normalcy in our community.  This last Sunday Claire, the kids, and I watched and prayed along with the Church At Home online service.  Afterwards, we left our apartment and went for a drive.  I was amazed.  It looked like Christmas at Walmart.  Easily 1000 + cars.  Later on, I was tempted to pick up some things at Home Depot, but relented.  I did not want to have to deal with the crowds!

It occurred to me, that we should hold church in the plumbing aisle.  Think about this for a minute— it would be legal to worship in the aisles of Home Depot, or Walmart, or any other store packed full of customers, but not in our own church building.

For six weeks, GraceBuilt has closed down our in-person worship services, and moved worship online for safety’s sake.  But something has changed.  The crowds that are out prove that many of us feel safe.  So why are we not worshipping in a Biblical manner? Because of an executive order from Governor Northam.

In Daniel 6, the king had declared no one could pray to anyone but him for 30 days.  Daniel goes to his room, prays as he always had before, and is caught praying by the authorities.

Now, Daniel knew as well as you or I that he could pray after the 30 days.  God does not require us to pray with eyes closed.  Daniel could have prayed silently, or without kneeling or hands raised. He did none of those things.  Daniel chose to pray according to Scriptures’ example, and according to his own life-long custom (Daniel 6:10).  He was willing to face the penalty of a lion’s den, because he trusted God.

We must remember Jesus’ teaching:  Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  Give to God what is God’s.  In this short season of Virginia history, you and I now experience a Caesar who is asking for what is God’s.

I am concerned that you and I at GraceBuilt Church have been ordered by the governor to surrender our First Amendment right to peaceful assembly and our God-given right to Biblical worship.  If we relinquish these freedoms today, what assurance do we have that they will be ours at all in the future?

St. Augustine teaches us that an unjust law is no law at all.   

We agree with Martin Luther King Jr. that we have a legal and moral obligation to obey just laws, but a moral obligation to disobey unjust ones. 

And when hundreds may congregate in stores, but scores cannot gather in church, we are experiencing an unjust law.  We must restore to God the Lordship over how we worship.

Beginning Sunday, May 10th, I invite you to join my family at GraceBuilt Church as we return to Biblical worship, 9 and 11 am, with corporate worship, Bible teaching, and prayer— together and in person. I believe by gathering, because of Jesus, not the government, we are teaching our kids and our community, that Jesus is Lord of all.

We will take measures to make these gatherings as safe as possible, including strict social distancing and attendance limits.  View our complete social distancing policy.

If you feel sick, or you have a weakened immune systems, or if you live in a household with an individual with a weakened immune system, we encourage you to stay home and enjoy our live broadcast of the service at, or

Again, it is important to me, personally, that each of you feel free to participate in-person or online, as your conscience and personal sense of safety requires.  You are all one family at our church, whether you are in a season at home, or blessed with youth and health enough to gather in person. 

But for those who do feel peace about gathering again, let us all make that choice based not on fear of the government but in the freedom of our own conscience.