I am on “vacation” this week. For seven days I have suspended my pastoral work and traded it for the work of remodeling my kitchen. I am using muscles that have not been used for a while and they are not very happy with me at the moment. In the end, the vacation’s work will provide a very beneficial result. Unfortunately, the process to the end may not necessarily be pleasant and in this case, will create a lot of dirt along with the pain.
In the same manner, many people put aside exercising the activities of the Christian life in favor of exerting themselves in other pursuits. One such area is the activity of corporate worship. A Sunday or two is missed because of illness or being away from home or some other legitimate reason, and before you know it, you have found reason to stay away permanently. Initially you intend to rejoin the congregation in worship, but as each week goes by, it becomes harder and harder to do. You try to justify your absence by “worshipping at home” but is there any justification for disobeying the admonition of Hebrews 10:25 concerning the assembling together of Christians?
Another activity is that of personal devotions. Personal Bible reading and prayer are neglected one day because of “more pressing needs” for your time. And like corporate worship, you intend to get back to the next day and then something else comes up. You justify the neglect of the activity by stating that the world (even your world) did not come to an end because of your neglect, so what difference does it make?
A third activity is that of personal evangelism. We start looking for those “perfect opportunities” to witness the salvation of God to someone who is lost and don’t take advantage of the good opportunities. In time, personal evangelism is reduced to living a prayerless, unread Bible, corporate worshipless “Christian” life before others so that they may see Christ in you. And then, to ease our guilt, we will type “Amen” to someone else’s Facebook post and conclude that we have been obedient to fulfill our part of the Great Commission.
This has been a rough week of vacation. I have lost a couple of hours of sleep because of some back muscles that were not too happy. And with the need created by the physical exertion, those couple of hours of sleep are valuable. But the pain and loss of a little sleep is well worth the outcome. To exercise those spiritual muscles that have not been used for a while will also bring some pain and maybe some loss of sleep. But its outcome will be far more beneficial than that of my kitchen.