I listen to podcasts in my truck as I travel from place to place around Atlanta, and I use the time to listen to old time radio shows, as well as to sermons from the brotherhood. In a recent podcast by Brad Harrub and Jack Wilkie on THINK, they discussed what church should be like between Sundays. They point out:
We have redefined church today. We talk about the church as a place we go for worship. We have compartmentalized our lives so much that we think that church is something we go to, rather than WHO WE ARE.
As an interesting comparison, consider how we talk about our family. Our family is important to us, we talk about going to birthday parties, eating together with our family, and regret that we don’t spend more time together as a family. Family is who we are. We NEVER talk about “going to family.” That makes no sense. In like manner, from a Biblical definition, we cannot biblical say we are going to church – we are the church whether we are gathered together or not.
Hence, there are some things that we cannot do as a church if we limit “church” to Sundays when we gather for worship. First . . .
We cannot grow closer together and bear one another’s burdens just on Sundays.
On any given Sunday morning, we meet with one another, hug one another, and ask how everyone has been. The normal answer is “Fine.” Then we go on to someone else and do the same thing and get the same answer. We DON’T see, just on Sundays, the problem marriages that couples are dealing with, or the problems they are dealing with in rearing their children, or the problems in their job . . . If they WERE to be honest with us about how life is, we, sometimes, will not have the time to sit down and talk with them, pray with them and cry with them about their struggles. We are in a hurry to get out, get something to eat, and go on about our business for the day. We have thus missed what the first-century church enjoyed.
I am impressed, as we studied through Acts 20, at how the church in Troas spent ALL night together, listening to Paul and discussing the things he taught. They were not in a hurry. They discussed doctrine, but also one another’s lives. They encouraged one another. They prayed for one another. They spent time together.
Christianity is messy! It takes time to get to know one another in the body, to build trust and relationships where I can trust you enough to tell you the sins I am dealing with and know that you will not judge me but help me. Most of us know the sins we commit and are ashamed of them, but rather than confess them and get others to help us deal with them, we bury them in our lives. We try to hide them instead of bringing them out in the open where the light of the gospel can help us see how ugly and despicable the sin really is. We do not seek help from others – we “bulldoze” through it and try to fight on our own, and fail again and again and again . . . We don’t want anyone else to know lest we are less highly thought of, are ashamed, and we don’t want anyone to think less of us because of our sin/weakness.
Here is a secret that we all know but hate to verbalize– we all struggle with our faith in Christ and with “besetting sins” that plague us. We have secret sins (Psalms 90:8) that we struggle with. We know that we don’t have to confess those private sins except between us and God, but some sins are of such nature that we still need help. As an example, looking at pornography is a sin (Matthew 5:27-30). The Bible is clear about that! Some might be able to break the habit of looking at pornographic material on their own. Yet science tells us that the more we look, the more a person becomes addicted to the material, and the more they need to look at it. It is somewhat like become addicted to technology – the more we look at it, the more we have to have it, because our brains sends signal that we need it for the “high” we experience. It “fulfills” us or makes us feel good. Sometimes it will take confessing the sin to someone you trust, and having that friend hold you accountable daily. Daily, a call is made between the person engaged in the sin, and the one holding them accountable, until such time as the habit is broken.
Beloved, we CANNOT build that kind of relationship and trust in just four hours a week (if we attend all the services and Bible classes).
More next week