Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday Best

I can remember waking up each Sunday morning as a kid, and grouchily wrestling into my "Sunday Best." You know, the black slacks, white button down shirt, and of course the flashy red suspenders. These were not the "proper" threads, but the ones I owned, which resulted in my mom being lectured as a poor parent because, "your boys don't have ties on, and those suspenders are too bold." God required us to wear our "Sunday best," which apparently meant itchy pants, stiff collars, and clip on ties.

I bring this up not for a wardrobe discussion, but because another topic has captured the water cooler crowd that involves a different idea of "Sunday Best." Heaven and hell, who is in and who is out. Orthodoxy (right thinking), who has it right, who is wrong and why Sunday matters. Books about heaven and hell are piling up on the book shelves, with the most recent books as a response to the first book and why the first author is wrong and this particular author is right. Some say heaven is full of surprises and there should be less talk about who's in and who's out, and more talk about who's invited and that how we live now is incredibly significant. Others say the Bible is clear that lots and lots of people will spend eternity in excruciating torment and punishment. The latter also claim that this belief is true orthodoxy and fundamental to Christianity. I will not wade into a specific stance, but I do have one really nagging question.

If thousands, millions or billions of people are going to suffer the latter, and the job of Christians is to "share Jesus," so that these heathens have some chance of "going to heaven," then how is it that an hour on Sunday morning is our best idea to accomplish this task? One hour, maybe a touch more, on one day is the passionate plea of the average evangelical church today. This group has blasted, condemned and furiously debated one man's book because they feel he takes hell too lightly. This group takes hell very seriously and they are claiming to be more passionate about people's eternal destination. Yet the vast majority of time, resources, and energy of the average evangelical church is spent on one hour, one day a week? This one hour, where what you wear, how you look, and what you may or may not believe could even dismiss you from participating in this Sunday service/gathering/experience.

"I want you to know God so badly that I am inviting you to join me later this week, not now of course, to sing songs that are really for those who believe this stuff already, and to sing these songs with lots of people who believe that you are going to hell."

Sounds like a fantastic time, when and where do I show up again?

Sorry if the sarcasm is a bit much for you, but I just wonder if our passion and desire for others to experience hope, complete love and everlasting peace might need some fresh looks. This has been boiling in my heart and mind because, as a pastor, my role is to guide others into the invitation. I am in the midst of this as well, so the question is just as much for me as for everyone else.

Is Sunday really the best we can do? Does Sunday get our best and all the other days are just practice until then? Is the week a recruitment fair for the big event? Or does Sunday stand as a day next to all the others where people are invited to follow Jesus? Does Sunday play a role, not one more important than others, but along side the others? Suggestions and push back are welcomed.


Natt Mash said...

Dude, you would love this book that has come out. It's called Love Wins! I think the writer is from Nebraska or Kansas, somewhere like that. His name is Bob Rell and he is the bees knees.

Craigster said...


I appreciate your post and think that is the crucial question: If we say we believe there is a literal hell, and that people will be separated from God for eternity, why aren't we more passionate about rescuing them from that?!

I'm reminded of the story of the man being led to his execution in England. A clergyman followed behind him reading the Scriptures relating to eternal rewards and punishment. After hearing these words read basically in a passionless monotone, the convict stated: “Sir, I do not share your faith. But if I did – if I believed what you say you believed – then although England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would crawl the length and breadth of it on hand and knee and think the pain worthwhile, just to save a single soul from this eternal hell of which you speak.”

Thanks brother!

Wally Harrison said...

What a great, powerful story Craig, and yes, nails it right on the head! I hope that my drive, desire and thirst is to connect EVERYONE to the living Christ! Sunday does not give us a job, yes? God's call, equipping and people needing Christ collide to do so.