One of the creation ordinances is that God the Creator set one day aside in seven to rest. On that one day, the seventh day, the Sabbath in the Old Testament, He asks the pinnacle of His creation, mankind, to just focus their attention on who He is and to delight in all His goodness to them. They could delight in the beauty and diversity of creation and all that God had made. They could marvel at the heavens above and the billions upon billions of stars and galaxies that He created. They could give thanks for all His provision for them. Even after the fall into sin, God’s desire was that they could show their love and adoration for Him by gathering together for worship at the temple. There, God made provision for them to offer their tithes, various offerings, and give thanks for His redeeming love and bringing them out of exile in Egypt to the Promised Land.
The New Testament Church now meets for worship on the first day of the week, resurrection Sunday, following the pattern of the early church. However, the reason for worship hasn’t really changed. We are also God’s covenant, redeemed people. God’s desire for us is also to set this one day aside when we can delight in our wonderful God for all the things mentioned above. We can also thank Him with our tithes and offerings and indeed our very lives for He has redeemed us from enslavement to sin to a wonderful forgiveness and eternal life through His Son.
However, it seems that over the years, Sunday worship and gathering with God’s people has become an inconvenience for so many Christians. Just consider for a moment how many churches, both within our own denomination and beyond, now only meet once on a Sunday. I am also aware that some churches have exchanged the evening service with a prayer and praise time. I can live with that too – not an issue. Oh, that we would spend more time in prayer and praise! Sadly, though, some churches who did go to that model no longer do so, for attendance has dropped right off. Obviously, even prayer and praise evenings have become inconvenient for some.
OK, it’s not about going to church twice, for that isn’t even ‘prescribed’ in Scripture. Indeed, going to church is not even a salvation issue perse because some Christians, due to serious illness, cannot come to a public worship service. However, for those who could come, who claim to be active, living Christians, is their non-attendance or at best, irregular attendance, a sign that worship with God’s redeemed people has become somewhat of an inconvenience for them?
Personally, I have always found it disappointing when fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who could be at worship, have no good reason for not being there, except that it was inconvenient for them. I cannot help thinking that some of our flimsy excuses must grieve the Holy Spirit within us.
I have often been reminded that ‘all of life’ is meant to be one of worship and we should not allow this to become a legalistic or Sunday issue. Agreed. I have even been told that it is unfair of Session to expect people to worship every week and that we should be pleased that they come at all, for the preaching isn’t all that great and the services are boring! Some even have the gall to suggest that because their weeks are so full with work and going here and there, that Sunday is the only day they have left to do ‘their’ thing. Someone even hinted to me that to expect Christians to come to worship on a weekly basis is just ‘old-school’.
Really? The Session didn’t stipulate that we put this time aside for worship, but our Almighty, Creator God who has redeemed us and promised forgiveness and eternal life in Christ has stipulated that we worship Him. What a wonderful privilege we can worship with like-minded Christians, enjoy fellowship and encourage one another in the faith as we see the Day drawing nearer. Where would you rather be?
I am not very good at mathematics, so I asked Dr Google what percentage of the week one hour of worship is (perhaps two hours when taking into consideration travel and fellowship time afterwards). Dr Google came back with the answer. It’s 1.19047619048% (-: One day we will spend eternity in glory with fellow Christians worshipping our Saviour God (Rev 5). Hopefully, it will not become an inconvenience then. JZ.