“As if” Sunday were special

An article in the London Telegraph entitled, “Church must be more than a Sunday service,” reports the Church of England recently declared that churches must adapt to modern life by offering many more weekday and evening services rather than continuing to act as if only Sunday is special.

Wait. Did they actually say “as if Sunday is special?”

Does not the Lord declare the Sabbath to be special? Are we not supposed to set aside one day of the week specifically for the worship of God? Where in Scripture does it say the commands of our Lord are to be compromised in order to accommodate “modern life?”

The article goes on to report that people will drift away if they are not offered alternative and attractive services that “fit into their busy lives.”

Some observations:

— Church is not supposed to be an entertainment venue for the unregenerate. Church is the gathering together of believers for worship, study, and fellowship. We come together to glorify God.

— When we, as believers, begin to view corporate worship as something we have to “fit into” our busy lives then we need to evaluate our priorities.

— If we have no desire to worship God and fellowship with other believers then we really need to evaluate our lives.

This whole mindset of shifting biblical directives to accommodate ourselves is symptomatic of a much deeper problem. The modern church has become consumed with the notion that God exists for us. We have taken to the idea that it’s okay to conform Christianity to our worldview and our lives in any way we see fit because, after all, if Christianity doesn’t help us accomplish our goals then what good is it? So we shouldn’t be at all surprised to find the Church of England declaring that Sunday is just another day. Hey, as the article points out, “modern-day weekends are full with domestic and personal agendas” that “present difficult choices for many.”

The bottom line: Our “personal” agendas are the priorty. If we don’t view it as important then God needs to adapt to our “modern” lifestyles.

Nope.

We need to get this straight. We exist to glorify God, period. Not the other way around. It’s not all about us, it’s all about Him. He is not to conform to us, we are to conform to Him. Now, I don’t expect the unregenerate to understand this. But it sure is troubling when believers begin to adopt the world’s perspective when God’s Word is so clear.

For a more biblical view of the Sabbath read Dr. David Alan Black’s article entitled, “The Lord’s Day still belongs to the Lord.”

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Thideological News of the Day

A Study in Contrasts

zhang.jpgA house-church leader in China has been sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison essentially because he is unashamed of the Gospel of Christ and will not stop bearing witness of our Lord Jesus. Pastor Zhang Rongliang (pictured at right), who is 55-years-old and suffers from diabetes, needs our prayer. Read more about him here.

Now, contrast his story with this one from agape press about how the Presbyterian Church (USA) recently voted to allow the denomination’s churches to use the phrase “compassionate mother, beloved child, and life-giving womb” in place of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Two things strike me. First, that the Presbyterian Church (USA) actually thinks the Church receives its authority by consensus and not from the Word of God. And two, that they compromise things clearly stated in Scripture for fear of “offending” someone. All this while Christians in China accept prison and torture rather than compromise the Word of God.

May God forgive us for compromising the authority of His Word and give us the boldness He has given our Chinese brethren in proclaiming that Word.

Our behavior toward our enemies

Why do we find it so difficult to practice what we preach? We know, for example, that God has commanded us to love our enemies and we find it very easy to articulate this teaching to one another in the context of a Sunday School class or a Bible study. So why do we have trouble conducting our lives accordingly?

In fact, the contrast between what we ought to do and what we actually do has almost become a permanent illustration in our classes. How many times have we studied clear instructions from God’s Word and then used our own lives as an example of a failure in this regard?

“The Bible says be slow to anger,” we point out… right before admitting, “But hey, I’m the world’s worst at flying off the handle.”

This is usually said to a chorus of amens, and “me too, brother.”

We know what we ought to do, we recognize the failure on our part, we go about our business with no intention of changing, and then use our lives as an illustration again in next week’s lesson.

Repentance and obedience is not a matter of choice. We are to repent of our sins and we are to be obedient to God’s instructions for our lives. Our spiritual forefathers did not take these things lightly. Consider Ananias from Acts chapter 9.

The Lord spoke to him in a vision and told him that Saul of Tarsus was at the house of Judas on Straight Street in Damascus. The Lord further instructed him to go to Saul and place his hands on him to heal him of his blindness.

Seems like a reasonable task. Reasonable, that is, until you consider who Saul is. Saul was a Pharisee and a chief enemy of Christianity. He was responsible for arresting and imprisoning Christians. He stood by holding the coats while Stephen was stoned to death.

Now, there’s a good chance Ananias resented the things Saul had done and viewed him as unworthy of healing. There’s also a real good chance that he was reluctant to help Saul out of fear for himself. Ananias was a Christian and he knew Saul’s reputation.

Nevertheless Ananias was obedient. Saul, a wretched enemy of the Church, was saved by God’s grace and used of God as one of His chief apostles.

In a recent post I pointed out how we need to be praying for our enemies according to Christ’s instructions in Matthew chapter 5. I’m sure it’s a topic that has come up a number of times since September 11, 2001. I wonder how many of us have admitted we need to do this and then use ourselves as examples of not having done it. And if we haven’t prayed for our enemies, what has prevented us? Is it because deep down inside we don’t want God to convict them of their sin – kind of like Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because deep down inside he knew the Ninevites would heed God’s call and repent and Jonah didn’t want that?

May God keep us from such attitudes.

I recently read a story in World magazine about three terrorists who have been saved. They now travel preaching God’s Word. What an incredible testimony. Before God saved them they were bent on killing westerners for political and religious reasons. Now they are brothers in Christ.

Their conversion should prompt us to pray for those who call themselves our enemies – not begrudgingly but earnestly.

Their story made me think once again of an enemy turned brother. In Ephesians chapter 6 the apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].”

Ultimately those who call themselves our enemies are not our real enemies. They are merely the instruments of our real enemy. They are enslaved to their sinful nature and in desperate need of God’s grace…

…just like we once were.

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