“For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”
Yesterday was the big celebration for Christians. Churches were packed, and pastors did their best to knock a message out of the park. They hoped that all those adult children who came back home to visit mom would finally listen. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but we’ll soon be back to normal. Those who love the Lord will worship him no matter what. Those who don’t will either continue to go to church out of habit or they won’t go at all.
I couldn’t but help to think that we should be praising God with the same gusto every day of the week as we do on this one particular service – or maybe two if we include Christmas. Isn’t this the same God? Of course, it is. I’m reminded of the husband who only bothers to treat his wife special on Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that simply an arbitrary day as well as any church holiday?
This gets me to thinking who we are doing all this for. It breaks a neglected wife’s heart to think that her husband can turn on the charm one day a year but not the rest. Don’t we all wonder who benefits as we buy $7.50 cards that hardly anyone really reads? At some point everyone has to wonder if Christmas hasn’t somehow lost it’s meaning. I think Easter is the same way. Multiple services to packed houses yet all will be forgotten come next Sunday.
Now, I know that a lot of fur is beginning to stand on the back of some necks but hear me out. Is not our God worthy to be praised with everything we’ve got every day of the year? Of course, he is! Then why all the special effort on a couple Sundays? Is it truly because we hope that some will be saved? Is it because this is still one day that people will still honor their mother and come to church? And, if we do a really good job, we can finally convince them? If we repeat, “He is risen!” three or four times, will that be what finally does the trick?
If that’s what we think, then we completely misunderstand the gospel and who it is that saves souls. Do some people get saved during an Easter or Christmas service? I’m sure they do. Do people get saved outside of church? I would venture to say that most do. Furthermore, do those who respond to the pastor’s “invitation” bear much fruit afterwards, or does the faith of most of these quickly wither and die? You all know the answer to that.
So, who are these special days for? The unsaved? Are we proving to them how much we love them on these big-production days? Or, are we doing it for some other reason that we don’t quite understand? Do we even question what we are doing? Honestly, take some thought to answer this question. How best can I show my love to a non-believer? Newsflash. They know what we are up to. They know we have an alternative motive.
I believe there are better ways we can show them our love. Get involved with their lives. Roll up your sleeves and get messed up in their problems. It’ll take time before they will let you, and it will take even more time once they do. Still, even that won’t be what makes them believe. Belief is still the work of God. You may get the privilege to see God transform a life. Then again, maybe you won’t. But, here’s the thing. Jesus commands all who follow him to make disciples. Right? Then go make disciples.
Can we make disciples one hour a week, maybe two if your church has a Wednesday bible study or life group? Nope. Besides, almost all of that time is spent visiting with other people who already go to church. The rest is spent focused on the program. True discipleship is done outside of church. Most will reject your message of Jesus. That’s OK. Move on to the next person. God is the one who saves. You simply have the privilege to share the gospel. If God so blesses you by allowing you to see a conversion, then you can bring the person to meet other Christians to worship together.
Now, I know what you’re saying. We’re a seeker-friendly church. What better way to introduce them to Jesus than church? Perhaps, except that in practice, this is no better than dropping your kids off at Sunday school yet not actively practicing deep faith the rest of the week. You still need to spend a lot of time outside of that one hour on Sunday if you want to disciple the non-believer. You will need to spend even more time with the new Christian, again, outside of church.
Why not instead gather regularly with fired-up, like-minded Christians and really worship God with everything you’ve got? Use that time to feast upon the meat of the gospel instead of infant’s milk. Prepare each other for the spiritual battles that are sure to come against mighty warriors of God. Pray in all earnestness in the spirit so that you might move mountains and the “greater deeds” that Jesus spoke about.
You know what will happen if you do this? You’ll find that you are only able to do this well with a small number of people. You can only do a good job with just so many. Any more and you’ll do a lousy job with all of them. Is it any wonder that people start to feel like a number the larger the church becomes? You’ll also find yourself changing your life so that you might dedicate more time and resources to the discipleship of non-believers and new believers. You’ll find the same desire to spend more time with fellow meat-eaters. An hour on Sunday will no longer be enough. You’ll start to realize so much of what you once found dear becomes a hinderance in your journey. You’ll start to rid yourself of that which holds you back. Remember, Jesus sent his disciples out with nothing but their clothes. If you don’t have time for serious discipleship, you have a lot of changes to make. Don’t let that hinder you. Just go out. You’ll make the changes so that you will be able to do more of what Jesus will have you do.
Anyway, that’s what I got out of my Easter service.
Father send me out.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers