Mine Creek Baptist Church
What Comes First
By Preacher Chris Rathbone
This generation has been accused of being a generation that lacks commitment. That may be true in a sense but actually, if this generation is guilty of anything it’s being overcommitted. That is to say, we commit ourselves too much to things that we could really do without. Our society has conditioned us to believe that if we aren’t busy all the time with something we are missing out on a full life. Social media posts are replete with photos of all the activities families are involved. Recently an automotive commercial highlighted an SUV that has all the room to carry the things needed for a family that fills up their entire schedule. The parents proceeded to tell their neighbor about all the activities in which the family was involved. Obviously, the point was to sell the vehicle, but what caught my attention was the fact that the family portrayed had their entire calendar filled with so much…. too much.
What I have witnessed being a pastor for around 17 years is how so many Christians and their families seem too busy for the things of God but always have time for all the other activities. When called upon to serve in some capacity in the local church the response is often, “Well pastor, I just don’t think I have time to commit to that. Let me pray about it and I’ll let you know.” For the most part, what they are hoping is while they are “praying about it” someone else will commit to it. The problem is that most everyone else is thinking the same thing and churches have about 10% of their members doing 100% of the work while the 90% who have been “praying about it” complain about what the 10% are doing!
Talking with other pastors over the years this problem is rampant in most churches. Christian families commit to so much stuff they have no time or energy left over for serving the Lord through the local church. The things of God are scheduled around everything else when everything else is supposed to be scheduled around the things of God. Not only is it hard to find Christians who are willing to step up and serve in their church, but it’s also getting harder to find Christians who will place a priority on even attending services regularly. While larger churches may not feel the effects as bad, smaller local congregations often struggle from week to week because Christian families do not place a priority on worship attendance or discipleship. Parents who should be leading their children to church and setting the example of church attendance will all too often teach their children that it is okay to let everything else come before worshipping or serving the Lord with other Christians. What many parents don’t realize is that they have shown by example that church attendance is not important. Each generation will place less and less priority on the most important thing a family should be doing together, worshipping together with the church. God’s plan for teaching our families always begins at home. We as parents are ultimately responsible for discipling our kids. If we are so busy and committed to so many things that we don’t have time to lead our children to church, folks we are too busy!
The Bible teaches us that the church is like a body with many different members (1 Corinthians Chapter 12). Each member of the body has a specific function. Even though each member is different with different gifts, each one is needful for the body to function properly. If you have ever experienced an injury to a member of your body, say your foot, the entire body is affected by having to compensate for the member of the body that isn’t functioning as it should. Paul wrote that the eye cannot say to the hand that it has no need of it anymore. The head cannot say to the feet that it has no need of feet anymore (vs 21). Just as our physical bodies need all members to function as it should, the church as the body of Christ needs all the members to function as it should. I’ve heard people who proclaim they are Christians say that they don’t need to attend church. That statement goes against scripture, my friends. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we need each other! We need every member to fulfill the function God has given them as part of the body of Christ. The eyes guide the hand to grasp, just as the hand grasps what the eyes see. The head guides the feet on a path, the feet carry the head down the path the head wants to go. We are many members of one body. There is to be no division in the body so that the members have the same care one for another (vs. 25). Just as a member of a physical body would wither and die if separated from the rest of the body, so would a Christian who have separated themselves from the body of Christ, the church body.
As a pastor, over the years I have personally witnessed this happen to Christian individuals and families. It happens a little at a time. Miss a service here, miss a service there, miss several in a row; miss a month; attend only on special occasions, etc, etc. Then before you know it there’s no desire at all. The excuses began to flow, sin begins to creep in, the spiritual life is drained, and often a total collapse of morality takes place and consequences begin to raise their head. Many times, the one who walked away from the very thing that was sustaining them with life-giving nourishment, is what they will blame for the consequences they are suffering! They’ll blame God, blame the church, blame some individual, etc, etc. And remember, this all started because they allowed everything else to come between them and Jesus and His church.
The point I’m trying to make is this: Let’s keep our priorities in order. Let’s not forget that learning about, serving, and worshipping Jesus should be the most important thing in our lives. He is to be first and foremost in our life and family. Would you stop for a while and take stock of what is going on in your family? What does your family as a whole place a priority on? Is it the things of God or the things of this world? Are you as a parent leading your family to worship with His church or are you leading them to believe it’s ok for anything or everything else to come before Him? Would you pause for a moment from all the chaos and ask yourself: What comes first?
P.S. Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church