Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

There Is Now No Condemnation

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Easter has come and gone for another year. Churches were packed Sunday from sunrise services through regular and extra worship services. Some of my colleagues had to hold Easter services off-sight for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to reach the unchurched and thought off-site might be the best way to do this. Some would have had to hold so many services in their current facilities that it made sense to go off-site to a larger facility. Some for both reasons and maybe some others as well. I imagine that some saw larger crowds than they will see all year until next Easter or maybe Christmas Eve.

If their attendance was anything like I have experienced over the years – although there were some visitors – like family visiting for the long holiday weekend – folks looking for a church or simply the C&E folks (Christmas and Easter) – mostly the higher attendance is a product of the regular folk all attending on the same Sunday. Sadly – studies show that regular for some folks means once or twice a month these days – something less than most every Sunday. When attendance on a regular Sunday is say 75 and on Easter it blossoms to 125 with only 10 visitors – that suggests that if your regulars were regular – your normal attendance might be closer to 115 than 75.

As pastors – we often ask the question – how can I reach the unchurched who attend on Easter? I would like to suggest – too late for this Easter but since they will be around some moving forward – we also might ask the question – how can I excite the regulars to be more regular in cooperate worship? I’m not suggesting that those who we see once or twice a month at regular worship are not sincere about their faith. For whatever the reason – and that is the key question – other things take a priority over cooperate worship two to three Sundays a month. Why and what can the church do about that priority listing – if anything? Shouldn’t the joy of our salvation – our relationship with Jesus – overcome even the toughest circumstances of life?

It may be work schedules for some that gets in the way. It may be family activities. It may be a combination of things for others. Is cooperate worship important to a person’s faith journey? I would suggest that it is and that I have found very few people who are deepening their faith outside of the local church environment. The church – after all – is called to do three things – worship – nurture – and draw others. The cooperate worship is one of the three things Scripture calls the church to do on a regular basis – Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

So now on to today’s passage! Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I hope no one takes my previous thoughts as any condemnation towards anyone but rather as the facts as I see them. I went there because of today’s passage and because of last Sunday being Easter. If indeed one of the great results of Christ dying on the cross is that He has won victory over judgment and eternal condemnation – shouldn’t these facts propel us to want to be in His presence and the presence of His Body – the church – as much as possible? Let me use an example.

When a couple is first married they usually can’t seem to be drawn together enough – every chance they get they want to spend time together. As the years mount – things tend – in some marriages – to get in the way of that connecting time. Children come along and their time together is cut into significantly. Careers develop and they find less and less time together. Life happens and the time they are drawn together often seems to diminish. I’ve seen some couples that have weathered these life changes and still find time to be drawn together. I’ve seen more than a few couples that allowed the circumstances of life to eat into their time together and at times it all but destroyed their relationship (at times it did). I’ve actually known couples that grew apart so much during this time that when the children moved out – so did they – apart from each other.

When we first came to Jesus most of us were all about being in His presence and being around His followers (the Body of Christ). As life developed – many allowed distractions to come between us and our regular devotion time – between us and our regular attendance in worship – between us and fellowship with the Body of Christ. Let me ask a question. Do the circumstances of life overcome the cross and what it does for us? I mean – no more condemnation – because Jesus died on the cross for our redemption. Shouldn’t Easter be something we celebrate every Sunday – maybe even every day? Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That sounds like something worth celebrating on a regular basis.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

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April 17, 2017 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , ,

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