Get me to the Church on Time!

Get Me to the Church on Time!            Why getting to Church on time Matters…?

I must admit that I am not someone who always runs on time. Life is busy, it seems to be filled with rushing from one important appointment to another, with little time in between. By the time, Sunday arrives our motivation to get to church on time may be very low.

But I want to suggest that getting to church on time is more than just about being punctual. Getting to church on time is a lot more spiritual than we may realise. I am not aware of any verses in the bible which speak directly about this. However, Paul tells the Colossian church what they should be doing when they meet.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Paul’s words to the Colossians reveal that Sunday services are “two-dimensional” He tells them to sing to God with heart-felt, sincere gratitude. Which is no surprise, Sunday services are all about God and engaging with him through his Son Jesus as His word is taught. That’s the first dimension – the vertical relationship.

However, the second dimension is not always as obvious. If we only ever focus on the first, we could argue that Christians meeting together is of little value, because we don’t need each other to meet with God. That is true, we can meet with God by ourselves, but Paul is quite clear, there is a second dimension to our services – the horizontal relationships. He tells the Colossians to sing to each other.

I used to think of singing in church as an optional extra, something that the more musical enjoyed. I didn’t think that everyone could enjoy singing in church. You may feel the same. It could be because you think you can’t sing or can’t relate to a certain style of music.

Whatever the reason I hope you see from this verse that we are called to sing to each other. It’s much less about the style or the tune of the song and more about the truth of the content which is the “message of Christ” We are unified by Jesus Christ and his message, not our musical abilities or tastes.

God’s word is calling us to teach and admonish, by singing truths to each other. You could sing to God in your car on the way to church, but unfortunately you can’t sing to the rest of the church in your car (depending on the size of your car).

Which means:

We need to be there, and others need us to be there too… Most of the singing at church happens at the beginning of our services. Being late for church typically means missing out on the singing. According to this verse, missing out on singing equals missing out on being taught and encouraged by brothers and sisters in Christ, passionately singing gospel truths for us to hear.

Colossians 3:15 directly opposes the idea that the singing is just a filler to pass the time until the sermon is preached. Rather, it’s an encouraging time of teaching gospel truths and urging each other to live lives trusting those truths. It’s better to think of the whole service including the singing as a time of teaching and the sermon as the high point because that is when we hear God’s word directly taught and applied to us. Singing is connected to the sermon and can be very effective in preparing us to hear God’s word preached and respond to it.

There is so much to learn through the words we sing. For example, the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel highlights God’s passion for seeking those who are spiritually lost. In preparing to hear a sermon like this, it would be appropriate to sing; “I once was lost in darkest night, yet thought I knew the way” to teach us that we were all spiritually lost at some point in our lives.

Or “How deep the Father’s love for us how vast beyond all measure that he would give his only Son to make a wretch His treasure” to remind us of the cost of God seeking and saving us.

Not getting to church in time is like getting to the cinema late and missing the beginning of the film. You can still enjoy the rest of the movie, but the plot won’t make as much sense as it should. A church service is similar, in that all the parts (including the singing) work together as a whole. They prepare us to hear God’s word preached and help to us to respond to it.

But, it’s not only about what we can get out of the times of singing, it’s also what we should be putting in. As much as we are encouraged by singing together we are also an encouragement to those around us. Missing the singing is not only missing out on an important part of the service it’s also taking away from an important part of the service.  If I am not there I won’t be taught and admonished and I won’t be able to be a part of the teaching and admonishing through the words I sing.

Getting to church on time matters because, firstly, we stand to gain much needed spiritual encouragement from those around us, and secondly, we can provide that same encouragement to others. So, why not come to church in time, ready to encourage and be encouraged through our singing.

See you on Sunday!

(by Grant Gibson)