Ask Your Preacher
“All In A Day's Work”Categories: WORSHIP
Since the time I was baptized decades ago, I have attended worship as regularly as I could, and the assemblies of the saints are extremely important to me and my wife. I have preached the gospel full-time for about nine years and have preached and taught as much as opportunity has been afforded to me for the past twenty-plus years. Although I desire to do more for the Lord, obtaining support for preaching is very difficult, and, just like any other christian, my family and I need to make a living. Recently, after almost fifteen years with my current employer, my work schedule has been changed, and I am no longer able to get the Lord's day mornings off. Some assert that they would not continue in a job which requires them to work on the Lord's day, and others imply that, "If one has faith, God will take care of him." What does the Bible say about working on the Lord's day? Also, what does the Bible say about the idea that if one is really a faithful christian, he or she will be at every service?
Believe me when I say there is no place I would rather be than at worship with the church, lending encouragement and gaining strength through God's Word. I believe that an examination of this topic would be helpful.
Hard At Work
Dear Hard At Work,
We really appreciate your attitude and desire to do what is right. This is an issue that thousands of, if not all, saints struggle with. When is it appropriate to miss services? To answer your question, we need to look at two verses: Rev 1:10 and Heb 10:25.
As you probably know, two services on Sunday is merely an expediency. Nowhere in the Scripture are the saints required to meet twice on Sunday – however, there is a reason that most congregations have multiple services. The reason our group has a morning and an evening worship is because Sunday is called "the Lord's day". That term is found in Rev 1:10 and is almost universally agreed by commentators to refer to Sunday because that is the day that the Lord arose from the grave, and it is the day that God commanded His saints to commemorate Christ's death (Acts 20:7). What is Sunday to a christian? It is a day given to the Lord. It doesn't say "The Lord's half-hour" or "The Lord's morning" – it says "The Lord's day". There is a principle there. God intends for us to mentally set that day aside for spiritual things. Unlike the Jewish Sabbath, christians aren't prohibited from working on Sundays or doing other things, but we still have a principle of devoting that day as a day for spiritual things. After all, the Old Testament Sabbath existed for the spiritual needs of men (Mk 2:27), and it isn't like those spiritual needs have gone away just because we aren't Jewish. Once again, for clarification, Sunday isn't a new Sabbath, but we can take some principles from Old Testament examples (1 Cor 10:6). It isn't wrong for a christian to work on Sunday, but it also isn't right for a christian to disregard the Bible design of Sunday as the Lord's day.
The other primary verse to consider is Heb 10:25. We are commanded to "not forsake the assembly". The word 'forsake' means 'to desert, abandon, or leave behind'. This verse is sometimes misused to say that if you miss even a single class or service, you are sinning – that isn't the case. Forsaking something is more than just a single absence; it is an attitude of desertion. Heb 10:25 says that those who had forsaken the church assembly had made a custom out of it – it was their habit. When our priorities change and the church is no longer important to us and the Lord's day is no longer a priority, then we have forsaken the assembly. To forsake the assembly requires a devaluation of worship in our lives and in our hearts. This is what makes your question so tricky. Your work schedule has certainly altered your attendance, but you also honestly contend that it hasn't changed your desire to be there with the brethren. This is a legitimate point, and it is unfair for someone to judge your heart's intent based off of your current work schedule issues without factoring in your decades of devotion. On the other side of the coin, what we do consistently is a window into our hearts. We are known by the fruit we bear (Matt 7:16). If a brother begins to scale back his attendance, it will legitimately raise eyebrows on caring brethren because attendance decline is a consistent indication that someone is having spiritual problems. People have a zillion different reasons (sickness, travel, family emergencies, work, car trouble, etc.) for missing services... sometimes those excuses are sincere, and sometimes they are a cover up for dodging our responsibilities to the Lord. Not everyone that misses a service is spiritually weak, but spiritually weak people miss services. We believe your intentions and desires are wholesome, but you have to admit that you are the exception to the trend.
In short, every christian needs to examine themselves (2 Cor 13:5) in those two areas. Do we treat Sunday like the Lord's day? Does our attitude and behavior clearly reflect that the church assembly is central to our lives? Answer those questions with fear and trembling (Php 2:12), and you will have the answer to the question you sent us.