Obeying God, Rather Than Men

Jess Whitlock

Years ago brother Bill Goring was doing research in some old records of the Liberty, Missouri Christian Church, formerly the church of Christ, where brother Moses E. Lard preached from 1853 through 1857. Notice what he discovered:

During the Civil War (sic), when Liberty was under the command of Federal Troops, an order had been issued by the commander that no public meetings of any nature were to be held in town. This included services of the church. Dr. W. A. Morton, a staunch Southern sympathizer, was determined to keep the church doors open. The first Sunday morning the order was in effect, Dr. Morton came to the meeting house and opened the doors, preparing for the morning service, as usual. Word of this action spread rapidly through the town, reaching the ears of the commanding officer. The latter immediately sent an aide to the meeting house bearing orders that no services were to be held. The soldiers rode up to the church, found Dr. Morton, and said, “I have orders from the officer in charge of this community that there is to be no meeting here today.” Dr. Morton replied at once, “I thank you, sir, but I have orders from a higher officer than yours to have services, and we plan to obey His command.” The aide withdrew, and services were held, not only that Sunday, but every succeeding Sunday thereafter.

When word reached other members of the community that the church had met, they too decided to meet the next Sunday. This group was restrained from meeting, however, because the officer told them that, “If it was not worthwhile to have services last Sunday, it is not worthwhile to have services today.” The matter was closed, and the Liberty church of Christ holds the distinction of being the only church to have services during the period of occupation by the Federal Troops.

On March 30, 2020 the mayor of New York City threatened that any “house of worship” where the members had attempted to meet, could be permanently “closed down” following the pandemic. I know of a few congregations (with fewer than 10 members) who have met during the pandemic. What if the governor/mayor should declare that a congregation that attempted to meet and worship during the pandemic must shut their doors permanently? Those brethren should practice Acts 5:29, where Peter and the apostles declared: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

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Author: Editor

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