Friday, April 20, 2007

Is this leagalism?

I had a recent conversation that has left me with some questions and thoughts.

The comment or question was raised out of concern for a fellow christian. 'Should we be concerned and say something if a family continues to make commitments that take them away from church activities?'

My answer was 'Yes.' In the past eight years of youth ministry we have seen a definite pattern in church attendance. Almost without exception when a family starts making commitments that take them away from church activities it is just one step in several that lead them away from the Lord. Whether that activity be work, school, sports, drama, music, whatever. So when I see the pattern starting my radar goes up and I beleive as 'family' we should hold eachother accountable.

This did not go over well with those in the conversation. I was surprised to hear that I was being leagaistic and judgmental. So I went home prayed, talked to my husband, and meditated on the thing. Was I being judgmental? Was this leagalistic?

Let me say that I do not think it a sin to miss church. It is not a sin to miss mid-week acitivities at church. I don't think it sinful to not be at church everytime the church doors are open. I think it is a condition of the heart. Sometimes we are eager to sing 'I Surrender All' and then say 'I am too tired to go to church', or 'I need a break'. These are not valid reasons. We are called as God's people to die to ourselves. Our selfish desires. I am talking to myself just as much as anyone else. Although my selfishness may not be visible like not attending a church service. It comes out otherways. Like being upset because I can't do something I want. Not wanting to get up in the middle of the night with a crying baby. Not wanting to prepare dinner. Not wanting to match socks. Not wanting to work in the nursery. Not wanting to teach a class. The list goes on... My selfishness may not be outward because although I don't want to do something most of the time I do it anyway. I still cook dinner, get up with the baby and etc. Sometimes my heart is not in it. I think that as long as what IS in my heart is although I don't want to, I will do it because I choose to obey the Lord. And I need to pray that my heart will meet my actions. I think this is part of the sactification process.

No I can not judge anothers actions. No I can not require something that is not required in scripture. I do think a tactful question about what is going on might be appropriate though. Not out of judgment, but concern. A genuine concern for a fellow brother and sister to not fall away, but press on.

The world is inticing and intoxicating in what it offers. I truly believe that we are in a fight for our families. Satan would like nothing more than to draw us away from the Lord. That may start with small decisions that are in themselves not bad or sinful.


Kim said...

Oh,I agree with this excellent post, Jill! I have often wondered the same things....I realize it is okay to miss church, but we must be holding one another accountable as well.

We have a few conflicts on Sunday and are evaluating this in our family even now.

great post!

Lisa writes... said...

Aren't we so afraid of offending and appearing "judgmental" and "legalistic"? While it is certainly valid to be concerned, it is also imperative that we God's people quit using these fears as excuses not to hold each other accountable. Timely post, Jill!

Sue said...

I definitely see your point and I believe it is a slippery slope.

The other side of this are the people who religiously are in church on Sunday but their daily lives don't reflect a relationship with Him at all.

Luke 4:16
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.

I think it is a good "custom" to go to church weekly and fellowship with other Christians, but when someone misses I think it should not be assumed they are backsliding, I like the approach of "checking in" with them and reaching out to them like you said.

Jill said...

Thank you Sue for your thoughts. I also agree that religiously going to a service really amounts to nothing. God keeps showing me it is all about the heart and only He can judge that one.

Kim said...

Jill,I have tagged you for a fun meme...I'd love to learn more about you! Come see!


kittyhox said...


I hope you don't mind a stranger's two cents! I think this is such an interesting topic.

I don't think that your response was legalistic. Often our outward behavior is indicative of the condition of our hearts. So I think it only makes sense to be concerned about the "optional" status that many people (self included, at times) and society, as a whole, often attach to church attendance.

When I look at my own walk with God, there have been times I have pulled away. You can guess where I was a lot of Sundays, during those periods. (If you can't guess, the answer is: sleeping in!)

I really believe that we need to make church attendance a priority. We are there to worship, and need to do that whether we feel like it or not!

I don't see anything wrong with gently and lovingly bringing the subject up with someone for whom you care (i.e., a friend or parishioner).


Kim said...

This is such an excellent topic and one that would be taboo in most church circles. Our church is quite small and so when people are out, it is no secret :)

We too have been closely evaluating our activities. Our middle child competes in gymnastics and there is a meet about once a month that are sometimes 2 or 3 hours out of town. So far, only twice this year was a meet on Sunday and we made a weekend trip out of it. One of those trips, my husband and oldest child were able to visit Mark Dever's church (9 marks) in D.C. so that worked out great! For each of these competitions we heavily considered the pros & cons and made it clear to the gym that Sundays were a priority. Because of our communication with them, they have made provisions for us at every single home meet so that her compete day is always Saturday.

Point was in that very loose rambling....we should be discerning about *any*thing that pulls us from the body of believers that we are called into fellowship with. Something as simple as "a couple of Sundays" were immediate red flags for us and we knew that our flesh could be easily swayed into that slippery slope!