Wednesday, October 31, 2012
BE the church and plant the seeds...
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God." -- Micah 6:8
Rest...another important topic that I have written about many times. It is something that I do not do enough. God gave us the example of resting after 6 days of creating the world. He blessed the seventh day and made it holy. (Genesis 2:1-3) In the Ten Commandments, He instructed us to "Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11) In that commandment, he instructs us not to work on that day...EVERYONE in our households (including the animals) should not work on the seventh day. I believe in my heart that God gave us the Ten Commandments not as a laundry list of "thou shall nots" but as a loving guide for us on how to take care of ourselves and live a happier, God-honoring life. God knows our bodies well (he SHOULD...he created us!) and knows that we NEED rest!
In Isaiah 56:1-8 God says he will bless those who do not desecrate the Sabbath. The dictionary states that desecrate means to violate the sancity of; treat disrespectfully, irreverently or outrageously. So, keeping the Sabbath means respecting it, treating it reverently and keeping it holy. If we do this, then God will bless us. If you read those Isaiah verses carefully, Isaiah mentions foreigners, outsiders and Eunichs (men who were excluded from the Assembly of God). The Lord would also bless THEM if they kept the Sabbath holy. I looked in my study Bible for what foreigners and outsiders meant, and found it was referring to people outside Israel (God's holy people)...people outside the church. How do people outside the church know God's laws and understand to keep the Sabbath holy????
Hmmm...this fits right in with what we've been talking about in my Sunday school class as we read Doug Pollock's book God Space. We Christians get upset when we see people in our culture not living God-honoring lives...how do they know how to live God-honoring lives if they are OUTSIDE the church? How do they learn God's word and God's loving way of guiding them?
Take honoring the Sabbath, for example. In our current culture, our kids now have scheduled ball games on Sunday mornings. In our current culture, because a vast majority of people are NOT growing up in church and learning about God's teachings, Sunday is just another day. Time is short these days...why not schedule on ball games Sunday mornings? Yes, those of us that make church on Sundays a priority have a problem with that. But, how can we expect people to keep God's laws and following his teachings when they don't KNOW them? They are "outside" the church.
Because Jesus instructed us to "go and make disciples of all nations," we know that it is our job as Christians to show people God's love and spread the good news of the gospel. We need to be concerned about those "church outsiders." If they are not coming to church, we need to BE the church in their lives. Now, this doesn't mean handing out tracts, spouting Bible verses and inviting people to church all the time. This means showing up with our Jesus glasses on and noticing the needs of people around us. When we start meeting those needs...with no strings attached, others around us will notice and start experiencing the kingdom of God in very tangible and attractive ways. They will want to know more...they will begin to be curious about this "God thing" and start asking questions.
In those Isaiah verses, why do you think God talks about honoring the outsiders and foreigners who learn to follow God's laws and keep the Sabbath holy? Why mention those people? I think God mentions them because when THEY learn to follow God, it is a big deal! People IN the church already know and understand. God will bless those "outsiders" greatly because they went from being outsiders to being INSIDERS!
If we want Sundays to be more about God than about football, we might have to play along with their game for a while. Instead of griping and complaining about how we can't go to church because our child has a tournament game on Sunday, and how terrible that is...let's take church TO the football game! Be kind...be a good example and not yell at the refs...TALK to other parents in the stands and NOTICE needs that you see and try to find ways to meet those needs...allow your child to put things they have learned in Sunday school or KidsPraise into practice on the ball field. Maybe...someday...those outsiders who scheduled games on God's holy day will have learned that God instructs us to rest on Sundays for a reason. Maybe they will someday learn God's teachings and follow them and then be greatly blessed by God!
If they don't go to church...how do they know? BE THE CHURCH around them so they can see!