(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
Who wouldn't want to sleep in on Sunday morning rather than getting up to go to a church service? Especially after a long and tiring week of work. It makes a lot of sense to sleep in. There would have to be plenty of motivation for someone to get out of bed on the weekend.
What if you happen to be someone who has only experienced boredom in church? In that case, you really wouldn't feel like getting out of bed to go there. Who wants to have one of your two weekend mornings taken up by something boring? That wouldn't make any sense at all.
It makes a lot of sense to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday, unless of course you have to work. Two other things that get people out of bed are sporting events and travel. Those are fun things to do. Of course a person is willing to get up early for those things. But here again, there is a high level of motivation to do those things. Most of us are willing to make some sacrifices for those things we are motivated to do. That's just the way life works.
We have a young man in our church who was at the worship service this morning after having just completed Army Basic Training. It was his first time back with us after 18 weeks of specialized training. I guess it made sense for him to get up at 4:15am every morning during his training. He was motivated, and besides, he was required to do it. He enlisted.
I am reminded of a classic Christian hymn entitled, "Onward Christian Soldiers." It speaks of the commitment that is needed in order to be effective in "God's army." There is a spiritual war going on all around us, and we would be unwise to enter battle without "the armor of God." (see Ephesians 6:10-20)
But what if I want just enough "religion" to make me feel good, but not so much that it interferes with my busy lifestyle and my favorite hobbies? After all, each of us deserves to have our weekend just to recoup after a hectic week of work, right?
If man had no soul, this would be a moot point. Sleeping in on Sunday would be no better or worse than going to church. Without a soul and without a Creator, it would be fairly ridiculous to ever attend a church service. I sure wouldn't do it, and I am guessing you wouldn't either.
That, however, is not the situation we find ourselves in. There is a God. He did create us. He does desire to have a loving relationship with us. And He does give His children the motivation to love Him and worship Him.
Attending church only makes sense if you are genuinely connecting with your Creator through that experience. If it's not authentic and life empowering, why do it just to "go through the motions?"
Just because some people have been bored by church does not mean that God and Christianity are boring. It just means that either their soul was bored with God, or the church they attended produced boredom, or both. Who wants to attend church if it is boring to do so?
Here's the thing. No person in heaven and no angel in heaven is ever bored by worshipping God. Just allow that fact to sink in for a minute. Genuine worship is always inspirational, and uplifting, and motivating. One of our problems here on earth is that we sometimes give up on important things rather easily.
It happens in marriage. It happens in the work place. It happens in sports. And it happens in matters of faith. It is easy to quit. It is easy to tell ourselves that it would be a waste of our time to continue doing that "same old same old."
But in matters of faith, not all churches are created equal. Not all churches will bless your soul. Some will, and some won't. Some will facilitate a spiritual filling of God's living water in your soul, and others don't have a clue what that would even look like. So which kind of church have you experienced?
Have you attended worship services where it was like "heaven came down" and the people were thrilled and highly motivated to be there? If you have not experienced that personally, I can see why you might be reluctant to attend church. That makes sense.
At the same time, I have never met a strong Christian who has given up on God and given up on attending church. Every strong Christian I have ever known has found a way to make Sunday morning a priority because they were motivated to be there (or on whatever day and time their group met for worship).
I have never known someone who is "strong in the Lord and in His mighty power" (Eph. 6:10) who didn't also have a super high level of interest in attending worship. Strong Christians are motivated to be there not just to receive strength, but also to encourage and bless others. In fact, that passion to serve others becomes a fire which fuels their desire to want to meet at least once a week with their Christian friends for worship.
How many strong Christians have you known? Are you one? Attending worship services is only one of many things that strong Christians do, but it is an important one to be sure. This is why the New Testament places such a huge emphasis upon it. (see Heb. 10:25, Matt. 18:20; Col. 3:16; Acts 2:42; James 1:22; Matt. 16:18; 1 Peter 2:2; Eph. 4:12; Romans 12:5; Romans 10:17; Matt. 28:19-20; Heb. 3:13; 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 2:41; 1 Cor. 12:12-27)
Apart from faith in Christ, man's soul is "asleep," and even "dead." How can it wake up? By repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Jesus and His cross. Once the soul is awake, it desires "to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord." (2 Peter 3:18)
Getting saved through faith, but then not gathering at least weekly with other believers, would be similar to enlisting in the military but then attempting to skip Basic Training. It doesn't work that way for obvious reasons. You are either in, or you are out.
Does it make sense to want to sleep in on Sunday? Sure. Just like it makes sense for an enlisted man or woman to want to sleep in once Basic Training is completed. I asked the young man in our church today what time he got up this morning. He replied, "7:30am." But yesterday, he and and younger brother were up at 4:15am to go out running together (on a Saturday morning no less!).
Some habits die hard I suppose. And good soldiers have a way of recruiting others to join them, even when the cost is high. It all boils down to motivation, and whether or not you have enlisted.
What about you? Are you a "soldier for self," or a "soldier for Christ?" You can't be both, but I suspect you probably already knew that didn't you?