Dedication to "The Team"
Jesus' earthly ministry covered an area that was only a few hundred miles; not a great distance, especially by todays standards. Assuming I travel the speed limit, my trusty truck and I can make a trip of 400 miles in roughly 5.7 hrs. Put this into perspective: If Jesus (and the disciples) walked three miles an hour for 16 hours per day, it would take them roughly 8.5 DAYS to make the same trip. This is a conservative estimate considering that He often dealt with rugged geography, hilly terrain, extreme temperatures, etc. It is estimated that Jesus walked around 3,125 miles during His 3.5 year earthly ministry (thanks for the research Deacon-boy). Talk about dedication! ""But He is God," you might say. Fair point. Time for more perspective.
In some places of the world, Christians still walk for hours to attend church. In Haiti, for example, many have to travel quite a distance on foot to attend worship. It is common for Haitian's to eat only once a day. It is far to common for some of them to attend church having not eaten at all for several days. Yet, so important is their dedication to "Team Jesus", they make the trip.
In other areas of the world, China and some parts of the Middle East for example, Christians must travel various distances to meet in secretive underground churches, for the sake of their personal safety. Imagine this, my friends. "They could execute us or put us in jail for attending this Bible study." Yet, to church or Bible study they go.
Now I am going to pick on us freedom having, church going American Christians for a moment. How many times have we sat and debated on whether or not to hop in our car and drive the 5 minutes across town to partake in fellowship and worship of the Lord? How many times have we opted out? "Eh, I am just tired today. I will go next week." "I am not feeling all that great. I am going to stay home today." "My children have driven me nuts today and I just don't have the mental energy to listen to that pastor ramble for an hour." Or how about this one...""I have better, more important things to do." There is a name for these statements...they are called EXCUSES.
Now, please do not misunderstand! There are absolutely times when we ARE sick and cannot make it to church. Maybe we have had a surgery. Maybe we have the flu. Maybe we are shut in because we are older and in the midst of a pandemic. All of these are absolutely rational and valid reasons for not being at church. Yet for many of us, the rational reasons quickly become excuses.
"Pastor, what is the danger in missing a few Wednesday evening Bible studies? So we missed a few Sundays, big deal right?" According to modern psychology, it takes roughly 30 days for a behavior to become a habit. This applies to both positive and negative behaviors. For instance, if one spends 20 minutes in Bible study everyday for 30 days, it becomes a part of our routine. Bible study will become something we look forward to and carry out, with almost reflex like dedication. But... there are only 4 Sundays (ok, sometimes 5) in a month. If one were to miss 5 out of 6-7 Sundays, what kind of habit is beginning to set up shop?
Then, of course, there is the Sunday morning crowd. "Leave me alone pastor, I was at church Sunday morning. I put my $20.00 in the offering plate. What more do you want from me?" Firstly, as a pastor, I demand nothing. Everything that we do (or don't do) is between a person and God. But, think of it this way. We will someday stand before Jesus for judgement. When that time comes will we tell Him, "Look Lord, I went to church at least two Sunday mornings a month, and I tithed when I could." Yikes!! Talk about perspective! This is the GOD who died for me! Saved me when I was unsavable. Loved me when I was unlovable.
You might be reading this and thinking, "thanks for the scathing rebuke, Pastor." Please understand, it is not my intention to make anyone feel guilty, or feel badly about themselves. If you find yourself under said conviction, however, it may just be the Holy Spirit knocking on your heart and saying "hey brother, hey sister, your church misses you. The Lord misses your obedience. The obedience He demands."
The free ability to attend worship is a "privilege" here in our country. Yet, to many of our brothers and sisters around the world, our privilege is their way of life. The sad truth, friends, is that churches are closing their doors at the hands of the far to powerful excuse. A great number of churches no longer offer Wednesday and Sunday evening services, because so few attend. But what if...We approached our spiritual and church life with the same fervor we do as our job? Or our family? Or hobbies? Or Sunday Night Football?
Keep this in mind when deciding with what level of dedication you will CHOOSE to approach your church/spiritual life. What would happen if we said, "I don't feel all that well but I am headed to church; my church needs me." Or even better, "I am tired after a long days works but I am headed to church; I need them." When Jesus went to the cross at Calvary, He did not say "Eh, sorry sinners maybe next week. I am just to busy to die for you today." Instead, He went willing to that cross and paid the penalty for MY sin. Perspective, perspective, perspective. Will we make it a point to be excited and diligent for "Team Jesus"?
Bro. John Eversole
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