Friday, May 11th, 2018
by Scott Ashby
Wasn’t Sunday an exciting day? It’s always a special time to hear how God has worked in individual lives for His glory and then to witness their baptism, a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the new life He has wrought in these people. The old is gone. The new has come! And to see that picture in two married couples on one Sunday was extra special.
So what will this Sunday hold? Will it be a plain, vanilla Sunday with the routines of songs, hand-shaking and preaching? Well, this Sunday is Mothers’ Day, so we will honour mothers and thank them for their vital ministry. That is entirely deserving and worthy of our attention.
But apart from that, doesn’t every Sunday have the potential of being a God-glorifying day as we put Him first? Much of what we get out of a Sunday depends on what we put into it.
Do we gather out of a sense of duty, afraid of God’s disapproval if we don’t show up to church? Or do we come with a sense of thanksgiving for the privilege we have of worshiping the God who has set us free from the bonds of sin? Do we arrive with the expectation that today will involve the same boring routine? Or do we come with the expectation that God will speak to us from His Word? Do we show up daring God to give us something? Or do we come excited to give God the sacrifice of praise and to give others the encouragement they need for their spiritual life?
Understanding the importance of gathering with God’s people, let me suggest three practical steps to heighten your expectations of church and prevent Sunday apathy.
We live in a busy age and a busy culture. As Pastor Isaak says, if you’re not busy in the GTA, you’re probably dead. Opportunities and events call for our attention all week long. Our electronic devices beckon us and distract us by the minute. And before we know it, the urgent has unseated the important.
If you don’t make Sundays a priority, other exciting, but temporal, things will oust church attendance from your calendar. If Christ is your greatest treasure, meeting together with His redeemed people ought to be the most important thing on your Sunday calendar.
Prepare for Sundays.
If gathering with God’s people is important, then there ought to be sufficient preparation. You wouldn’t recommend showing up to work unprepared, half-dressed, unrested, late, and with a distracted mind. Yet people frequently come to church as if being bodily present is all that matters.
If you are going to be effective in ministering to others on Sundays and receiving what God has to say, then do some preparation. Get some rest on Saturday night. Spend some time in prayer asking God to use you in the lives of others and to speak to you through His Word. Of course, if you have a teaching role, you’ll have extra preparation, so spend adequate time preparing to communicate and apply the very words of God! Plan your morning to arrive early enough to greet others and serve wherever you can.
Participate on Sundays.
Did you know that church is not a spectator sport? The church is a living organism (a body) which functions every day, not just when the pastor shows up to the office or steps onto the platform. Church doesn’t really start at 10:00am. It just continues in a more organized fashion as we join our voices together to sing God’s praises.
So avoid treating church as “the stuff that happens on the platform for an hour.” Those on the platform are leading, but you are the choir! Sing heartily! Focus your attention on God, His attributes and His faithfulness to you. Bear testimony to His goodness in your life by how you conduct yourself in the service. Read the scriptures aloud together with awe that God has spoken! Listen to the preached Word eagerly. Encourage others spiritually during the fellowship time. Participate in the Bible Study class discussion. And then return at 5:00pm to pray together, dig further into the Word, receive training or celebrate the Lord’s Table.
How we value Sundays is an important factor in how we experience Sundays. Perhaps we need to reboot our thinking? Perhaps we need to have greater expectations?
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)