Sunday morning temptation
A Sunday morning scenario---
Me: But, mom. I'm tired. I just want to sleep in this morning.
Mom: Sorry, you better get moving. Leaving in thirty minutes.
Me: But, mom. Listen. It's been a hard week and I just need to chill.
Mom: No, you need to get to church. It's always a blessing.
Me: But, mom. I just don't know if I can handle those people this morning.
Mom: No, they are good people and they love you. Now, get moving.
Me: But, mom. I'm a grown man and ought to be able to sleep in one Sunday.
Mom: No, son. You're going to church. Now, get with it.
Me: But, mom. Just this once.
Mom: No, son. You have to go. Besides, you're the pastor. They need you there.
For thirty-five years there was no debate about what Sundays and Wednesday looked like in our house. As the pastor of local churches for most of them church was the order of the day, our default setting. During my time with the South Carolina Baptist Convention I was usually preaching in one of our 2,200 churches every Sunday and was consulting with congregations on most Wednesdays. But, it was still pro forma for Harriet to attend Northside BC in Columbia twice every week. it's just what we did. Auto pilot.
That's not the whole story. We were both kids with---hold your breath for an oldie---a lifetime drug problem: our parents drug us to church three times every week for the eighteen years we lived at home. Harriet did the same at the Christian college she attended and I went to mandatory chapel at The Citadel for four years and attended local churches after that as a means of meeting babes, having a meal, and getting off campus for a few hours. That is all to say we're church people and have been all of our lives. An occasional illness or a sleepover with a non-church friend was about the only interruption in that Sunday routine.
Even in those interval years between college and our call to full-time pastoral service, Harriet and I were very active in local churches. Looking back on those eight years i know it was more than habit that took us and then our young family to church each Sunday and Wednesday. What was it? There are a couple of thoughts here---
1. If the church is the Body of Christ, each member is essential to the body.
This means that we needed them, and they needed us.
2. Our spiritual gifts contribute to Kingdom mission.
A local church isn't the only expression of Kingdom mission. But, it is a prime
focal point for living a Kingdom centered life. It was where we discovered our
place in his Kingdom and began to experience his greater call over our lives.
3. We learned the disciplines of the Christian life at church.
It's where we were taught the essentials of worship, fellowship, discipleship,
stewardship, witness, service, personal devotion, and the basics of faith.
4. Our children experienced Christian teaching and lasting impressions of faith.
Liz and Brian both were dedicated at church as infants. They attended age-
graded Bible study and mission education and early discipleship. In time they
both professed faith in Christ, experienced believers baptism, and carried those
lessons into adulthood, marriage, and now family life.
5. Those years prepared us for God's next chapter in our lives.
We had no idea that he would eventually lead us to pastoral ministry. But,
those years in church were a prelude to what God had planned for us. Even if
we had not been called to ministry, those church years impacted us greatly.
Now, in retirement, Harriet and I can reflect on our many years of church involvement and can hardly imagine life apart from the people, experiences, lessons, and blessings of church life. In these times when church commitments are questioned and down- played, we ought to talk about it more, the joys of our church experiences.
With the Apostle Paul I'm saying---
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for
you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from
the first day until now.
Philippians 1:3-5, ESV
The blessings always outweighed the Sunday morning temptation.