I’m guilty of what I am about to share with you.
You are probably like me (and most people) in that, when you are planning your vacation or just a time to get away, you attempt to maximize your “weekend” (more to come on why “weekend” is in quotes). That means you look at Saturday and Sunday as days that don’t count toward your vacation time. For example, if you are taking 5 days off work, by basic math, you have 9 days off (two sets of Sundays’ and two sets of Saturdays). Or maybe you are just going to plan a little getaway and so you are not going to use any vacation time, but you are going to leave Friday at 5:00 pm and get back on Sunday at 9:00 pm. By not using any vacation time you have maximized your time off and the time that you get to be away. However, I would like us to consider if that is the most Biblical way to think about your time.
What is a Weekend?
My wife and I loved watching the PBS series, Downton Abbey. In the show, there is a prickly character called the Dowager Countess of Grantham (a dowager is a person whose husband has died and was part of the landed gentry). She is the older matriarch of the family and one of the best characters of the show. In one of the shows, she is interacting with another character who is talking about what is happening over the weekend at which point the Dowager Countess of Grantham inquires in a puzzled fashion, “What is a week-end?”
For many of us in the West, the weekend is Saturday and Sunday, but that is not how Sunday has always been viewed. Traditionally, Sunday has been regarded as the Lord’s Day and, as such, the first day of the week. Have you ever noticed that on your calendar that Sunday shown at the beginning of the week? That was, at one time, very intentional. The first day of the week was set aside for the Lord, for the church, for church activity and fellowship. On the Lord’s Day no work was done for one’s occupation. However, with the secularization of the culture, people stopped going to church as faithfully as they had, and Sunday became just another day off work. Gradually Sunday went from the first day of the week that was dedicated to the Lord to the last day of the week before one had to go back to work.
The Impact of the Weekend
The West’s view of Sunday as just another day off from one’s labor has had a dramatic and profound impact on the church. Once church attendance was considered a normal and enjoyable part of life for those who were regenerate, but now it is viewed more and more as an optional (or required but not enjoyable) activity. Instead of viewing Sunday as a day to fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, Sunday became a “family day” where nuclear families spent time together accomplishing what they set out to do on their own. The impact, in short, is that Sunday is no longer viewed primarily as a day to worship the Lord and to commune with the church family; it is, instead, a day to do whatever you want. This has had a deleterious effect on our churches.
Extra Vacation Day?
One of the implications of this is that you may need to make a conscious decision on how you are going to use your vacation days. For example, if you and your family wanted to take a short getaway and you had planned on using Saturday and Sunday so that you didn’t use vacation time, you might need to consider using vacation time on Friday so that you can be in church on Sunday.
We all need to wrestle with the question of what will bring us more joy and more rest. Will having more vacations, more days at the lake or days in a different city bring you and your family joy and rest? Or will being in church on Sunday, worshiping with your church family, and serving with them bring you and your family more joy and rest? The answer from scripture is clear: being in church will bring more joy and rest.
Now that is not to say that you can’t ever miss a Sunday, but many of the times that we miss Sunday and the Lord’s Day has to do with the desire to maximize vacation days: “How many trips and days of pleasure can we fit into this travel season?” There is nothing wrong with taking vacation, but if your travel schedule keeps you out of church more than it keeps you in church, you have an imbalance.
How Christ Views the Church
There are several excuses people in our society have offered up as to why they do not like church or value it the way Christ does. Some have had bad experiences in the past and they do not want to get hurt again. Some just feel burnt out by the requests for servants, call for actions, and so on earth — therefore they have taken matters into their own hands. Some just view it as a time to “be fed” with no thought of serving and actual worship of the Lord.
Whatever the reason, Christ will have none of it. Christ died for the church and bought it with his blood. (Eph. 5:25, Acts 20:28) So how we think about the church, how we act in and toward the church, and how we value it must be governed by the fact that Christ bought it with the most precious substance to every grace this earth— his blood. To not value the church is to say that what Christ values (the church) is not that valuable. Christ thinks the church (i.e. the local church) is of such incredible value that he died for it. Part of what he wanted from those that would be called by his name is for them to form into small communities to accomplish his work. They would do the things that he commanded in the context of the local church. We must value the church the way that Christ values the church if we are to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
A Call to Change
“Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25)
These words explicitly call us to prioritize Sunday (or Saturday if that is when you gather) for worship, Bible instruction, fellowship, and service. The church of Christ must start taking the Lord’s Day seriously if it is to accomplish the work that Christ has set out for it to do and to live a life that is glorifying to God. As you consider how you view Sunday, consider how things might need to change in your family.
- Do you view Sunday as a day (all day) dedicated to the Lord, or do you see it as the last chance for freedom before you return to your occupation?
- Do you view Sunday as a day to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ and the lost, or is it a day to feed the “me-monster”?
- Do you view Sunday as a day that you must be in church (as vital as eating and drinking are for your body)? Or is it just a day around which to plan your vacations?
- Does your view of Sunday differ from how a non-regenerate person views Sunday? The non-regenerate views it as a free day from labor. The Christian views it as a day (full day) dedicated to worshiping and serving the Lord.
- Do you think it is so vital to be with the church on Sunday morning that only the most extreme situations will keep you out of it? Or is church just something that is nice to attend, but anything from a small cold, to travel schedules, to being tired will keep you out of it?
- Do you need to reconsider what commitments you and your family have to outside organizations to ensure you are faithful to the Lord’s Day?
Consider how you and your family may need to change this week and moving forward. Consider where changes need to happen ranging from your travel schedules, to what ministries you are involved in with the full knowledge that Christ puts tremendous importance on Sunday and the local church.