Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Sundays and a heart for Jesus

OK. so you're a Christian and you get up on a Sunday morning and decide to go to church. Or you get up and decide to lead a Church service. What should you expect? What should you be doing? What is the function of getting together? What is the point of the one hour, two hours or whatever we give for a Sunday morning.

Well the problem with humanity is undoubtedly the heart. Our hearts do not love God or other people as they should. The Bible calls this sin and says that it is our nature. So on a Sunday morning surely it stands to reason that our goal is to warm our hearts for Jesus? Surely a Sunday morning is there to help us love Jesus more? So on a Sunday morning we help people to recognise the true state of their hearts and then we point them to Jesus and enable his work and his character to win their hearts.

I need to say that I think that this is an invaluable way of thinking about things and much better than numerous other things which people focus on during a Sunday morning. However, there are a couple of dangers with this which I think are worth thinking about.

If it's all about our heart and our love for Jesus then we are undoubtedly going to have failed in the week leading up to church. Our heart is not going to be what it should have been and because of this our behaviour, thoughts, words, relationships are not going to have been what they should have been either. So if what happens at church is that we are brought face to face with the state of our hearts and then reminded of Jesus work there is as very real danger that it becomes expected that a Sunday morning service provides 2 functions.
1. Absolution - At church we expect to be brought face to face with the state of our heart. Then we expect to be reminded of the fact that despite the state of our heart Jesus died for us and so forgiveness is available for us. The danger is that through this Sunday focus we end up living a life without ongoing repentance and sanctification, instead relying on a meeting to provide the absolution we need.
2. Reheating - Then at church we expect to find our hearts reheated with love for Jesus. So the way we expect our Christian life to work is that we go to church and have our hearts warmed for Jesus and then during the week they cool down until we return to church next Sunday morning to have out hearts reheated.

All of a sudden our Sunday meetings have become precisely the ritual which we were hoping to avoid by focusing on the heart instead of externals. Sunday mornings become events we go to for absolution and refocussing and fail to impact the rest of our lives. Sundays become the very religious exercise which we so wanted to avoid.

So what should Sunday morning's be about? Maybe I'll return to that in my next post.