Ever read something that makes you anxious?
Finished reading D. Broughton Knox Selected Works Volume II on the bus last week, and indeed that book has provoked much challenges, both theologically and mentally. Something that he wrote about church makes me think hard about my extra-church life.
What the members of Christ's body do in church is the same as what they do in their own room, or what they do in the family circle. That is, they praise and thank God together, they encourage and exhort one another, they listen to God's word together and teach it to one another. A Christian who does not regularly say his own prayers and thanksgivings and read the Bible himself privately, yet comes to church on Sunday, will be found to be coming for wrong or at least inadequate reasons. Christian spouses who do not pray together, read scripture together and have fellowship in Christ together daily, or Christian parents who do not teach their children the knowledge of God's revelation daily, and who do not lead them in prayer and thanksgiving and fellowship with Christ as a family each day, and who come to church on Sunday, act in a most contradictory manner, coming or Christian fellowship with their acquaintances while they have no fellowship with their closet. Plainly they do not know the real reason why the Spirit of God draws Christians to church, which is to meet with Christ in one another, according to his promise, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst"...
D. Broughton Knox Selected Works Volume II, "Church, Churches and Denominations" pp 96-97
If you do not practise what you do in the church, i.e. praise, pray, listen and teach, in your life outside the church meetings, you are coming for wrong or inadequate reasons and acting in a most contradictory manner. At the same time, many of us today would see that somewhat reflects ourselves. There are significant differences in how I live my Sunday and the rest of the week. On Sunday, I am expected to be involved in these Christian activities. I'll pray with people, I'll lead Bible studies and I'll sing praises and worship. But somehow these activities don't really blend that well in one's extra-church life during weekdays. Forgot to pray, too embarrassed to evangelise, prefer TV than God's Word, and I don't even mention God on my lips...
And it demands more than one's private life - it also calls for the responsibility of the head of a Christian family. There is no point for a husband or a father to come and join the fellowship on Sunday, if during the week he does not lead the family in prayer and thanksgiving, or teach the children the Word of God daily at home. Again it challenges one to live a life that is in line with what he professes.
But most importantly, why do I go to church? Listen to sermons? Meet friends? Enjoy fellowship? Too often we go for self-gratification, forgetting that church should be other people centred. Not what I can get, but what I can give.