Monday, August 3, 2009

Making the most of the Lord's Day

Christians believe that everyday belongs to the Lord. Christians do not subscribe to the view that Sunday is holier than other days of the week. The Lordship of Christ means He has dominion over every square inch of our lives. The same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is worshiped on Sunday, remains constant, all seeing, all powerful, Monday through Saturday.

Worship is a lifestyle and never an event, or an episode that Christians do on certain days of the week. Christians dedicate all 168 hours of the week as an expression of what it means to live under the sway of God's kingdom. Paul, speaking to the intellectual elites of Athens said, "For in him we live and move and have our being" Acts 17: 28. Therefore, "Whatever we do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" Colossians 3:17.

Taken together, these two verses and many others, form the basis for why Christians live with the constant awareness of being in the presence of God.

However, there are dedicated times for corporate worship. On the first day of the week Jesus was raised victoriously over death and the grave. In light of the resurrection of Jesus, early Christians eventually transitioned away from Sabbath worship to worship on the first day of the week. In Acts 20:7, Paul met with Christians in Ephesus before departing for Jerusalem. This is the first reference in Acts to worship on Sunday.

In 1 Cor. 16:2 the phrase, first day of every week reoccurs. This is a Jewish expression for Sunday, and similar to the phrase used in the Gospels to describe the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). This shows that Christians gathered for worship on Sunday, not Saturday (cf. Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10), in order to acknowledge the crucial importance of Christ's resurrection.

In one sense, Sunday is the Christian's Sabbath. Not in the legalistic sense of the Old Testament, but in the sense that we show our devotion, our love, and our commitment to Jesus Christ. Sunday is the day we commit ourselves to the church gathered in worship. Gathered as one people, our main project is that together we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:6

Unfortunately, family life today is one of struggle against the pressures of busyness and the loss of a sacred center. Our culture does not care about the values of gathered worship on the first day of the week. We should not expect any special favors from our culture. We do not look to culture for help in living transformed Christian lives. We take our cues from Scripture's invitation to live a radical discipleship that runs counter to the values of culture.

This means we ask ourselves and each other very hard questions such as: should we support sporting events, work, shopping, or other major commitments that bind us and keep us from gathering with the family of God for worship and nurture? Should we allow dominant culture to dictate key priorities, and then give God what's left?

There are no easy answers here! We are not under law but under grace Romans 6:14. There will be times when we do things on a Sunday, such as vacation, time with family, work, etc. that prevent us from being part of a worship gathering. But if we claim to be under the Lordship of Christ, yet his will has no influence in how we expend the 168 hours of each week, then it's time to re-examine the depth of our faith.

Here are some ideas for making Sunday central to your family
1. Make it your goal to be with God's people in worship each week
2. Try to schedule all your work and recreation in the first 6 days of each week
3. Prepare for Sunday worship as early as Friday - make sure clothes are ready, food is prepared, and especially on Saturday night, try to get to bed by a decent hour so that everyone wakes up rested and ready to give honor to the Lord.
4. Pray for the pastor and the church staff through the week. Pray that God's Spirit would empower those who have a vital role in leading worship, preaching and teaching, playing music, greeting and ushering.
5. Review the Scriptures for each week's worship ahead of time
6. Involve your children where possible. Encourage your family to prepare their tithe/offerings ahead of time. Help them understand that giving is a joyful response to God's bounty.
7. Gather with a readiness to sing, pray, encourage others, confess, and listen to the word of God read and proclaimed
8. When the worship time ends, worship doesn't end. Follow up at home with added discussion. Review the worship, the message, and talk about how to obey the Word God in one's daily life.

We are what we worship. Where our treasure is there will our heart be also (Matt. 6: 21. Make God our treasure and worship becomes the active pursuit and enjoyment of Him, the lover of our soul.