Part Two of series on the Lord’s Day
(Click Here to read Part One)
By Pastor Tedd Mathis
In our previous installment on The Lord’s Day we saw seven reasons why we should set it aside. In this installment I want to give two main ways how we are to do this.
Our Lord does not heap on us picayune rituals and needless ceremonies. But neither did He save us to live according to our self-centered desires and worldly influence.
What Christ does call His people to do is to love one another like He did. He commands it: This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you – John 15:12.
The love He modeled, and commands, is practical, eternal in perspective and self-sacrificial. “The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve and give His life a ransom for many” – Mark 10:45. Hours before He went to the cross Jesus laid aside His outer garments and did what only the lowliest of slaves was assigned: He washed His disciple’s feet. Practical. Lowly. Humbling. Do we call Jesus our teacher? Do we call Him our Lord? Do we want to be like Jesus? On the Lord’s Day, let’s confirm that by serving one another.
As your pastor I am not to put oppressive or unnecessary duties or responsibilities upon you. Jesus indicted the Pharisees for laying heavy burdens on men’s shoulders (Matt 23:1-4). What I’ve laid out below is simply a refresher of what we already know to be true: it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). But our response will reveal something about us: Immature believers use their freedom in Christ to do what they want, assuming others should serve them. Mature believers seek to use their freedom to serve others.
While there are other ways we can set aside the Lord’s Day, I remain convinced the following are never to be ignored. They are bedrock principles and practices each of us are to live out.
Serve One Another By Faithfully Showing Up
Regularly be in Sunday school and church services on Sunday. Jesus faithfully attended synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16). You should be faithful attending church services on Sunday. On Saturday, mow the lawn, mop the kitchen floor, take your weekly bath (only if you need one). On Sunday love your brothers and sisters in Christ by being with them. Your presence encourages your family; your willful absence discourages us.
What about other opportunities. Recently a dad told me the following: When my wife and I started having children we made the decision that extra-curricular activities were not going to take priority over church. That has meant our children have not joined some athletic teams or become part of other events or clubs because they conflict with what is our priority. Why? It’s the Lord’s Day. Christ and His people take priority. Period.
What about vacations? As you plan your time away, do some research as to local churches where you’ll be staying. It’s a great way to discover the reality of Mark 10:28-31. Dawn and I have repeatedly enjoyed visiting other churches, finding God’s family in multiple places!
What about work schedules? Do your best to negotiate Sundays off. If that’s not doable, consider another place to work. If that’s not doable, be with Christ’s people at midweek services, men’s or women’s breakfasts and Bible studies. Ask your pastor to send you his sermon notes.
Serve One Another With Hospitality
Christ’s people are expected to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:1,2; I Peter 4:9). Reports from the first few centuries of the church’s history speak of how the Christians were known for their hospitality. And most of the Christians were of the lower economic status. Their care for one another was simple not elaborate or ostentatious.
Recently I read of a couple who moved to a new community and started attending a small church. No one reached out to them personally. Instead of getting offended and leaving, they made it their goal to have into their home for a meal every member of the church. By the end of the year the church was a far friendlier group.
In a society of debilitating loneliness, high numbers of attempted suicide, and colossal family dysfunction, let’s be the church family that knows each other! Below are a few suggestions. My list is very basic and far from exhaustive. Ask the Lord how you may be used to encourage one another.
+ Set a schedule to have someone over from church for a Sunday meal. Or, invite someone in for dessert late afternoon (I’ll be glad to come and pray over the peach cobbler!).
+ Make it the day to encourage shut ins. Visit the members in the nursing home. I know someone who called up an elderly shut in couple and asked to bring in a meal and enjoy it with them!
+ Organize a potluck picnic with your Sunday school class.
+ Have a hot tub or swimming pool, or a big back yard? Invite families with children over. Enjoy a cookout and goofy games or recreation. Establish a schedule: twice-monthly get togethers in your home. Invite other couples or parents to take a turn hosting.
+ Look for visitors, or people you don’t know well. Invite them over for lunch. If they decline your offer, they will have left our church service knowing you were interested in them!
Encourage each other in the Lord. Read a brief passage of Scripture you’ve been meditating on. Rehash something that challenged or encouraged you from Sunday school or the sermon.
We live in a world that appeals to our fleshly bent to look out for ourselves, to live as though this life is all there is. Society rejects the concept of judgment and poo poos new heavens and a new earth. Christ humbled Himself and served even to the point of death on a cross because He knew He would be raised from the dead. He knew that in the presence of God there is fullness of joy and in His right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11). This world mocks those who live that way. Unbelievers set their mind on earthly desires. Our mandate remains: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus… – Philippians 2:1-7