Last week, we defined “Church through the week” basically with 3 statements:
1. “Church through the week” begins with true concern for one another.
2. “Church through the week” doesn’t neglect the neighbourhood.
3. “Church through the week” means repenting of our masks and making the most of the time we have.
Question for this week : How are salvation and “church through the week” connected?
“Church through the week” will make sense when we see it as an outcome of our identity which God created through salvation. We don’t have to meet as a church even once a week to achieve salvation, no, but the joy of salvation makes us generous toward our fellow Christians- in matters of time.
It is possible that a Christian working 11-hour shifts at an oil rig, 70 kms off the coast, has more concern for his spiritual family than a person who lives just 5 minutes away from the church hall. The off-shore guy has the spiritual readiness that is essential for what Marg calls “church through the week”!
This sacrificial mindset is an implication of who Jesus has made us now. It’s part of the rescue from sin which Jesus accomplishes for anyone who rejects their false ideas of who God is and falls helplessly on the Jesus to save them from the supernatural punishment God promises to all sinners.
We, who were known by the Lord Jesus, we are the ones who did not deserve one gracious glance from Him, not one of His blessings. Yet here we are, cleansed of our former deep stains, washed clean from the guilt and the power of sin, made brand new the day God showed us our desperate need for Him!
Salvation is not just a feeling; it’s a reality. The Spirit of God confirms to the person that their very being has been irreversibly changed. Our old identities melt away and new identities are forged. One of them is spiritual family.
From sinner, I was declared a saint, a child of the living God.
Once an enemy, a dangerous stranger, now a member of the household, the family of God (Eph 2:19).
I used the word Identity on purpose.
Is God really our Father? Is Jesus really our elder brother?
If I answer “yes”, God opens a 21-st century, laminated door into a room. I behold my church gathered within.
Jesus says“welcome to your new family”.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q 1. Did not the first church meet only on the first day of the week as seen in Acts 20:7?
A 1. This idea comes from the unfortunate presumption that meeting one day in the week was the norm God had given His people, which has been reinforced by a massive unbiblical tradition from the days of the Catholic church that Sundays was the day for special worship.
Acts 20:7 never says that they met only on the first day of the week. Yes, that day had symbolic significance because our Lord rose from the dead on that day, but it can be argued that this was not the only day they met.
Let’s see how the first church understood fellowship. Acts 2:42-47. The very first occurrence of the church gathering comes in the Book of Acts. This is the very first time the Spirit moved the people of God to meet. Acts 2:46 says- “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”
In Acts 2 at least, church was a daily affair. Further, Hebrews 3:12-13 says that hardening of heart must be countered by exhorting fellow believers daily. We, today, can encourage one another over the phone or via email- how do we imagine did the first church obey this command without meeting with at least some believers daily?
Q 2. I think “church through the week” should not be imposed as a rule for today’s churches. Most of the Bible happened in rural settings anyway. They had plenty of time to meet up, and we don’t!
A 2. This was dealt in last week ‘s post towards the end; see under ‘Time does not exist!’ in “Church through the week- I”.
Q 3. There is a historical record of missionaries who have spent months and years sharing the Good News of Christ among far-flung, unreached tribes. Many of them have had no spiritual connection with the church for long periods, yet they were instrumental. They didn’t follow this “church through the week” thingy. So were they wrong, when clearly God used them?
A3. Travelling missionary teams have been a part of the church, like we see Paul and his team from Acts 13 onward. Such missionaries sacrifice the joy of meeting their spiritual family (and even biological families) for months; they have taken up the task of labouring in hard situations for God’s kingdom plans to take root somewhere else. Wow.
Are there missionaries who God has used in times where the church was lying asleep? Yes. Does that mean missionaries were to exist outside of God’s church? No.
Look at how and where God brought about the first missionary team. Paul didn’t decide to go on missions because he had prayed and come to that conclusion. These men acted like they were an arm of God’s body in Antioch and moved, not merely out of their own understanding but, as a Spirit-led act which was affirmed by church leaders at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3).
Missionaries are often known to do their own thing based on organizational goals these days, which is in sharp contrast to how Paul and team went back to Antioch where they had been commended(Acts 14:26,27). Their genuine concern for their church family is seen in how they spent quality-time with the disciples at Antioch (Acts 14:28).
Q4. I work in the Indian Army. How on earth do you propose I should live “church through the week”? I have no chance to be ‘family’ with any one church! What can I possibly do?
A4. As the son of an ex-army officer, I can understand the hardship involved in your career. You will need to move every 2-3 years to serve the nation. You may be even required to switch locations over night. Nothing wrong there! God wants some of His people to be in careers like the armed forces, the merchant navy, the medical fields and other special careers to present His character there.
You could prayerfully discuss with your spiritual mentors from the church you received your spiritual growth. It’s possible to make a creative and flexible framework for you to make disciples of Jesus wherever you are posted along with a local church as much as possible. As the Lord builds you and your family up, is He able to use you to bring fellow soldiers to surrender to the One who laid down His life for people who did not deserve mercy? Yes He is!
Q 5. At my office, it is the norm to not leave work before 7pm. I have missed out on such a lovely series of teaching because there is always work even though our shift ends officially at 6pm. This is also affecting the time I spend with my spouse and children. What do I do?!
A 5. Please don’t give up! Praise God for your desire to learn what your spiritual family is investing their time and energy in. Your longing is probably proof that you consider your church your spiritual family and you aim to learn with them.
I remember the request made by my first employer to stay back till 8pm, to coordinate the rolling out of various releases of our company’s products. It was a one-off situation that occurred once every 2-3 months and I gladly complied.
But since jobs get busier as we climb the corporate ladder without thinking much, it’s good to run through some spiritual check-points:
Have you spoken to your supervisor and asked if it is right for them to expect services beyond what you and your company had agreed on?
If not, is it because you are afraid you will be reprimanded or you might lose an imminent promotion?
The Bible teaches we must learn to become workers who provide value to our employers and we can learn to do this in the work-hours given. If our laziness is leading us to work long hours, we need to repent and learn to be focused at work. But Christians are not called to order our lives around schedules that make the job, the king.
Our culture is immersed in identity based on what we accomplish or do. No one asks “who are you” these days. It is “what do you do” or “where do you work”?
Work today is also very different from the Master-Slave arrangement in the Bible. Slaves never got paid. Disobedience could cost them their lives and neither did they sign any contract- so any comparisons to today’s work culture must be made carefully. Today it is only right for either the employer or the employee to raise questions if the contract is being violated. Neither party is obligated to continue if the other is violating terms with impunity.
So – are you working long hours because you believe this is the only way you can provide for your family? How is this attitude different from making work your idol? Is Jesus your provider or have you believed that your company is your provider?
If I come home early to spend time with my own family, but on days when I have a church meeting, I stay back and work a bit more, is that right? If I really believed church is family, I would not behave so.
Work is not our identity. It’s a role we play.
And we must play it well – Christians should work without wasting any time because Jesus, the best Workman in God’s sight ever, is our Lord. If laziness, love for a certain status of living and an evil desire to be approved does not allow us to manage our family (1 Tim. 3:3,4), then how on earth will we men manage the church, the family of God (1 Tim. 3:5) ?
We need a good dose of godly sorrow and hatred toward the sins mentioned above in order to align our hearts to God’s plans and find joy in that, if that means working well at jobs that pay lesser.
It should not be a mystery to people in our neighbourhoods that there are a people who belong to Jesus and who belong to one another. This will become real only if each of us have a thriving relationship with God our Father, that leads us to love God and our neighbours (Matt. 22:36-40 ).