"The tank's full. It just won't run!" As smoke billowed from under the hood, the mechanic inquired: "Well when was the last time you changed the oil?" The ignorant driver replied, "Uh, oil?"
As a recovering "church" kid, my default tendency is to look to Sunday morning to "get 'er done", to fix what ails me, to punch my card & "be christian"... as if Sunday morning is the only opportunity to be in relationship with God. When I look into the Scripture, I find corporate worship looks more like a celebration of His faithfulness, than a once-and-done tank-full of false-hope.
Most of us reign from the south where it's still pretty cultural to be "christian", even if this is the only Sunday of the year many are likely to worship their supposed savior. But even a glossary scan of the Owner's Manual portrays a very different picture of authentic worship of the Sovereign Savior. Rather than a token's worth of attendance, He's a life-time supply of the oil of gladness for those who hope in Him.
Sunday morning Proclaim ought to be a celebration of overflow from all God is, has done, is doing & will do! And that's some high octane! But, we oughta be experiencing Him all week long as we live on mission together in Restore, and grow daily in His Word through Sustain. When we get it backwards, when we put all the responsibility on Proclaim to "grow us in truth" (Sustain), to "share life together & live on mission" (Restore), then no wonder Proclaim isn't the celebration it's supposed to be! When the church hasn't been the Church all week, all month, all year, well... 90 minutes of celebration on Sunday is gonna be pretty shallow & worship pretty hollow.
What would we call a group of people that saw each other once a week for 90 minutes, but spent the rest of their time in isolation. Surely not a family, surely not the family of God! Say it ain't so, South Church. Say it ain't so! Proclaim isn't "church", rather it's where the Church gathers for corporate worship. The true Church is living & growing in relationship with their Lord & His family throughout the week, throughout their lives, everyday; and on Sundays, we get to celebrate!
I hate guilt as much as anyone else, especially this time of year. Instead, what I'd really rather do is help you unwrap the Christmas gift of life you're longing to live: life with God, lived out through love for others! Through Christ, He has made the way for all of us to leave behind the lesser lands of entertainment & consumerism and enter into the joy of contributing membership in His family of faith. But how long 'til we run out of gas without actually being in daily relationship with Him or with one another?
Jesus is the great space-invader! He invaded our space, and seeks to setup camp in the privacy of our lives. Ruined by sin, much of His creation would rather Him NOT be incarnate. In fact, to some extent we tried to kill Him for exposing our darkness, for raising our hoods with His piercing Light. But, the Son of God couldn't stay dead. Hallelujah! He came alive and moved--not just into our world, but--into our hearts, and is on the move out through our hands & feet, and mouths & minds.
Such a mission many of us will have the opportunity to live next Tuesday as our Restore families seek to "Restore Christmas Eve to our First Responders." Truth is, many a "first responder" may not even want you there. Heck, you may not want to be there either. It's often uncomfortable showing up in unfamiliar territory, on another's turf, to bring Good News & a good meal.
This is what Christ has done for us: He showed up on our turf, as one of us, bringing Good News of great joy, becoming the Bread of Life, our everlasting life. At first, Jesus may have been about as unwanted as the painful news of a blown block from your neighborhood mechanic. But aren't you thankful He didn't wait until you figured out how to fix it before He showed up with a new engine?
Church family, family of God, I encourage you: become incarnate in the lives of these first responders. Ironically, these are the very ones we want coming to our rescue when we need them most. And this is an opportunity for you to show & tell the love of Jesus, to be living examples of His surprise & joy. So, every time the enemy seeks to deposit a seed of fear, insecurity or doubt about this opportunity, "take every thought captive" & tell him to go to hell. Merry Christmas, satan!
So, between now & then, I advise you to tank up on the Word of God in Sustain & apply the oil of gladness through Restore. If you're not already plugged into the family and would like to "live on mission" with us this Christmas Eve, email uncle Chuck for more info (search for Chuck in the online directory).
Looking forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior with you this Sunday at Proclaim! Bold or broken-down, you're welcome at the filling station for the celebration.