Living the other six

Growing up in a Christian home, church on Sundays was not just something that we did. It was something that served to define who we were. I have fond memories of attending Sunday school classes where I learned about Moses crossing the Red Sea, Daniel and the lion's den, and Jesus healing sick people all from the magic of the flannel graph board. The pain of sitting beside my grandfather on those impossibly hard wooden pews was dulled by hearing his rich baritone voice singing those beautiful old hymns. Those were simple, good times, but they served to give me a spiritual foundation that I have never forgotten.

As I grew older and eventually left home, going to church shifted from something I had to do as a child under my parents' authority to something I could choose to do. As a young man who was entering the ministry, continuing to attend church was a no-brainer for me - why would I NOT want to go? Yet at the same time, I began to notice traits within me bubbling to the surface that up until that point I had never really noticed before, particularly the slick ways that I could play the part of good church-going young man on Sundays while living a less-than-holy way during the week. Instead of simply going to church, I had begun "showing" for church.

If you are a follower of Jesus or grew up going to church, this is not a foreign concept to you. We've all heard preachers exhort us to live out our faith on Monday through Saturday, "Because Sunday is coming!" And the term "Sunday Christian" needs no real explanation. Yes, it's easy to live righteously when all eyes are on you - especially the preacher's eyes who see you sitting on the back row!

I am pretty sure that for the early Christians, this idea of struggling to live out their faith in Jesus on the other six days of the week made no sense to them. After all, their lives were in danger every day because of their faith and choosing to follow Jesus was an all-or-none proposition for them. Yet even then not everyone got it.

In Jesus' day, many of the Jewish religious leaders were not too thrilled about His ministry and His claims to be the Son of God. These were the guys on the fringe whose devotion to religious ritual had effectively numbed them to the reality of true faith. So when they saw all that Jesus was doing in the communities around them - healing the sick, bringing hope to the hopeless, and bringing truth to the lost - it drove them nuts.

One guy in particular, a leader in a local synagogue, became the poster child for the religious idiocy. We find his story in Luke 13:10-17 and it goes something like this: Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath, a day on which the Jewish people believed that no work should be done (the definition of "work" was rather dicey at times). Enter the synagogue leader. He can't believe what he is seeing. No, he's not overwhelmed at the amazing miracle from Jesus that he has just witnessed. Instead, he's ticked off that Jesus chooses the Sabbath of all days to do the work of God. Boiling over with anger, this synagogue leader asks, "Can't you do your amazing works on one of the other six days of the week instead of the Sabbath?" Now I don't know about you, but if I was face-to-face with Jesus I'm pretty sure I could find a better question to ask of Him!

Unbeknownst to him, our synagogue leader friend has flipped the script and turned the tables on US by asking Jesus this ridiculous question. Put in another context for our enjoyment, he might be asking all of us, "I see your devotion on your days of worship. But what are YOU doing the other six days of the week that are pointing others to Jesus and creating a stir in your community?" It was obvious that Jesus taught amazing truths and performed incredible works everyday of the week. His disciples were known to follow suit. Can the same be said about us?

Sundays are a special time for Christians because it is the one day of the week where we can all intentionally gather for corporate worship and celebration of Jesus. We should never overlook these times of assembly and should come expectant to hear from God and give back to Him all of the worth that is due Him. But we should all realize that church on Sunday is not the time that we gather to impress God or each other with our personal notions of holiness and piety. Sunday gatherings (or whenever you gather as a body of Christ followers) are for God to be worshiped, not for us to ring the bell of our own self-proclaimed spiritual awesomeness.

The true call of the follower of Jesus is to live for him daily. It's nice to gather once a week with a bunch of people who think and believe as you do. Yet it's far more urgent that we live this faith in Jesus the other six days of the week so that the world around us can see just how great and worthy our Jesus truly is.

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