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Pervasive Sabbath

I just listened to a podcast on countercultural Christianity. It’s a conversation between pastors working through various topics and how Christians are to act or react in light of Christ’s claim on us. I like it so far.

This particular episode was covering Sabbath. It’s a vital piece of life. Rest after work not as an earned reward but as a recognition that we need refreshing and we are not God.

I think the church could do far better in advocating for healthy rhythms of life for believers. Sabbath should be subversive, to borrow an adjective from another popular book. But what I have noticed in nearly every contemporary tome on eliminating hurry or carving out rest as the way of Jesus, is an utter lack of familiarity or relationship with the wage earner.

Most of the voices calling for an embrace of Sabbath are those of the affluent. Perhaps not everyone is “wealthy” by their own definition but they expose their lack of experiencing the tension of sacrificing hours of work or feeding their children.

God tells us he will judge those that oppressed the wage earner (Malachi 3:5) so how can we advocate for what is right and good without ignoring the poor?

Let’s start by serving them. By making friends. Entering into their lives as Jesus has. Maybe the church should create Sabbath gap funding to provide for the least. Or we can advocate for higher wages as a ways to pervasive Sabbath among all of us.

Let’s do it different. For the glory of Christ and the good of the kingdom.

Discipleship

When Convenience Surrenders to Commitment

On Sunday I was talking with another elder and a member of our church about the distance someone is willing to drive to gather with the church. The question came up because there is a church facility for sale in our community and as our church begins to plan for a long term and permanent location some of us were weighing the possibility.

I thought perhaps it was too far north given our current gathering location so in conversation with the elder we asked for input from the younger member just building a family. His answer was quick, “We used to drive twice as far to get here.” He was right. A year ago his wife and he bought a house closer to our church but before that they were thirty minutes further away and still made the trip.

It struck me that I had been thinking of the convenience of the gathering of the church rather than the commitment our members had to it. This young member had already surrendered his convenience to his commitment and what an example and encouragement that is to me.

When it comes to the life of the church that is really what we are asking, and we should answer. If this worth it? Committing to a body of believers who are running together after Jesus and does that beat out our desire for convenience?

As the church global is refined by a pandemic and there really is no point in being a “nominal Christian” I think this reality will be vital for healthy churches and I hope together, as the people of the Way, we will answer that we have surrendered convenience to commitment. It is where we flourish, serve each other, and become the witness we were called to be.

Onward to commitment.

Discipleship

It’s Time to Build the House

This week I am preaching on Haggai in our series on the Minor Prophets. We didn’t give any thought of the calendar when we scheduled this series so it is surely of the Holy Spirit that a word about taking up the work of building the house of the Lord comes on the one-year anniversary of the last service before pandemic shutdowns.

God’s remnant people had come back from exile with the announced mission to rebuild the Temple. They began the work but face significant opposition and distress. So like any of us facing hardship, they gave up. They stopped the work on the Temple thinking it could never be as beautiful as before. But they did keep laboring, just for themselves building fine houses. Haggai is the word of the Lord calling them to engage again in building His house.

They can do it because he promises to be with them and that what he is building is better. It is the thing of greater glory.

Haggai is about the new Temple. It is about Jesus and his people being made into the Temple of greater glory. But it also has a stirring reminder to us to get back to work.

While many of us faced a pause in momentum or drive for the last year, given the unknowns and difficulty of doing more than maintaining, yet it is likely time that we get back to it. Responsibly for sure but knowing that God is with us and he is building something better.

I think this is true for us at Reservoir Church and it is likely true for you wherever you are. What was the thing God was calling you to? How was the glory of Christ meant to be manifest in your life? What risks were you supposed to take, what energy or resource were you supposed to invest? It’s time. Build the house. The Lord is with you and he build better.