I hope you can understand what I am saying. May God give you spiritual discernment.
I had a text conversation, once upon a time, dealing with the Christian life and Christian dedication. We are seeing a major breakdown of both in our generation. The conversation centered around working on Wednesday nights and thereby missing church. The substance of this post substantially includes my conversation with this individual.
If you ever fall from steadfastness in your Christian life, your fall will certainly include elements of what I am about to discuss. This is a subtle area of truth, but you really need to hear it. I see potential problems in your future Christian life if you cannot discern the truth of what I am saying. Please read carefully.
So, a member of one of my churches was leaning in the direction of working on Wednesday nights which would thereby necessitate missing the midweek meeting. As the church member's pastor, I had a pretty good feel for this individual's spiritual temperature and I was concerned about this person making this unnecessary decision which could further weaken their spiritual life.
This was some of my counsel to this individual. I will label the conversation points with "Pastor," and "Church Member" so that you can more easily follow the flow.
"To work tonight (Wednesday) would violate several biblical principles. These principles will mean success or failure for you in the future…based on how well you understand them.
1. "We are to seek FIRST the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). There is no personal or biblical mandate requiring you to work tonight. However, there is a biblical principle that you are to seek God first and his righteousness."
Now remember, we are dealing with a nuance here. It is true that just as there is no biblical mandate to work on Wednesday night, there is also no biblical mandate to go to church on Wednesday night. It is this nuance which goes straight to the intent of our hearts, and also reveals what is there.
I continued on with this individual...
2. "We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (as the manner of some is) - Hebrews 10:25 - Now this passage is dealing with someone who is forsaking in the sense of rejecting the assembly (and I know you are not doing that) however the Bible goes on to state two more things.
A. "It says we are to 'exhort one another.' This means that Christians are to earnestly encourage one another…..the question is, encourage one another in what? In this context, we are to encourage one another about assembling together…..missing church services for unjustified/unnecessary reasons is one of the first steps to moving away from your Christian steadfastness, especially if this absence from the church is combined with a lack of prayer, personal Bible devotions, and no actual Christian outreach/witness.
B. "The Bible says that we are to 'exhort one another and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.' So then, we are to be encouraging each other to be more faithful, dedicated, and devoted to the assembling together of ourselves, rather than promoting less assembling together.
C. Please monitor closely the influence of your friends in this and other areas...
In this individual's life, at the job, there were other persons who did not go to church on Wednesday nights and, further, did not see the need for it. These people would obviously lend encouragement (actively or passively) to skip Wednesday nights, rather than attend them.
I continued on with my counsel...
3. "I fought through this same issue when I was younger. For my life, I have always attempted to reserve the days of assembling together at church for the Lord. I work basically four to five days a week….40 hours each week. It is not too much to reserve faithfully these 3 hours a week (church times) for the Lord and guard them faithfully. I (unnecessarily) took a job that kept me out of church on Sundays (primarily Sunday mornings) and for 8 months, I felt like I was being damaged spiritually…I determined that I would never do that again.
"I am just trying to help you see and understand these subtle yet powerful principles. If you learn them, it will save you much heartache in the future. These types of principles are how we make wise decisions for ourselves and our families….and not be led astray by other considerations. These types of Biblically based principles are also how we learn to live out our Biblical worldview rather than the contemporary Christian worldview (or blatant secular worldview)…Many Christians don’t grasp this, because they don’t want to….they want to make their own decisions based on what they want.
"My heart’s desire is that you will always, first, want to please and honor the Lord, thereby leading yourself and your family wisely; and also providing a true biblically based example of living before others.
"Please always choose the high road!
"Do you remember what the high road is? It is not choosing between what is good and bad. It is choosing between that which is good and best…
"I love you...Working on a Wednesday won’t cause problems and isn't wrong though, necessarily (although it may be wrong).
"Think about this…I have given you Biblical justification for why I think and act the way I do in this matter. Can you give me Biblical authority for why you would act differently?
Meditate on this
Most Americans Think They Have a Biblical Worldview. But Do They?
This is what we are dealing with right now in the faith.
51% of Christians think they have a biblical worldview
and are living out God's way in their life in this world…..
In reality, only 6% actually do.
So we’ve got 94% of Christians who are living some kind of quasi-biblical experience, and yet think they are all good…
"I just don’t see where it’s mandated that you go to church twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday."
"I never said it was mandated...By the way, we don’t seek the Bible in order to justify what we want to do. We seek it to find out what God would have us do."
"I see no problem if someone doesn’t go to church either on Sunday night or on Wednesday."
"Study what I said again in the first (longer) text…"
"I did read it."
"Give me your biblical authority for that position…..not just what you “see” or think…"
"What if someone’s church doesn’t have service on Wednesday?"
"I said 'study it.'"
"You can’t say they’re wrong for that."
"There is more to it than that. The questions are more varied. The first question would be…. 'Why do they not meet more often? Why do they feel that less is best? What other things do they not “see” as mandated?"
"Some people probably meet every day."
"Your kindergarten friend now sees alcoholic beverages as ok….
How did he come to that position? By the influence of his new church friends….
"We’re not talking about that though."
"This (alcoholic beverage, church one time per week, etc.) is a natural corollary to the whole idea we are discussing…..it is all coming out of the contemporary and emergent church movement which, by the way, started in the Southern Baptist movement, and is still being championed by them….as the way to keep our churches growing and going!
Please consider seriously what I am saying."
This was basically the end of our conversation at this point. Can you see the subtle, and yet, absolutely critical nature of this conversation? I am in no way trying to put someone under a yoke that is too hard to bear. I recoil against man made tradition as much as the next. May God give us wisdom, and a heart for the truth.
How would you have answered this church member? What would your counsel have been? Could this person that I spoke with represent your current condition? Seek the Lord, biblically, about the state of your heart.