Is Church ‘Out for the Summer’?

Catechism & Bible studies are postponed until the fall and Council will probably meet with less frequency. Many of us will be out and about for the summer: visiting friends and family abroad and the like.

Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that the church follows the worldly pattern of taking a summer break from her usual education schedule. Did the priests of Israel said to the people: ‘okay we need some time off this summer because the heat is really getting to us’? Or maybe the Old Testament kings would think: I should really go vacation to the Mediterranean Sea because these people are a real headache. Perhaps the apostles of the early church should have been able to go to the Roman baths once in awhile because they were so tired from bringing the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles.

In all seriousness, however, we see that some people really got into a lot of trouble when they were not attentive to their work (think of David, 2 Samuel 11:1ff. or the parable of the lazy servant, Matthew 25:26)

In contrast, Timothy was called to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) If any man had reason to complain about his work schedule it would be Paul who traveled thousands of miles for the sake of Christ, bringing the gospel to the nations. (1 Timothy 4:10) The only break he ever had, as far as we know, was when he was in prison.

When we read Romans 16 we may be struck by the work of the many Christians who ‘labored’ (meaning that they worked hard even to the point of weariness) in the Lord. Indeed every one of us through the victory in Christ may conclude that we are “always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:57ff.)

So is it wrong to, as it were, ‘take a break’ from church activities? Not necessarily; recreation and fellowship can also be a form of worship and labor for Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:31) But there is a important reminder in this of which we must be aware. What such a break should do is make us see the many other things that we have either neglected or perhaps not had an opportunity to do during the rest of the year. Whether it be to visit a church member, get involved in community evangelism or projects, or mow the lawn on the church property (hint, hint) we can be busy at this time of the year to serve the Lord.

You see it is not just a matter of church attendance that suffers because people are off camping or traveling. It is not simply a matter of money that we may lack in our offerings because we may be spending it doing some big yard project at home, or because we are finally taking that vacation to Hawaii for which we have been planning so long. No, the most prevalent issue for the Christian at this time of the year (if not all the time) is we that we must never become weary in doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

Furthermore, we should not think that the summer is time to stop learning. Some grow weary of study and need a summer break from writing and reading (see Ecclesiastes 12:12). And yet others, according to Paul, are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7) So let us not sleep now but be wide awake. Let us hear the word of God, believe it and rejoice for He delights to feed us (Psalm 81:10) Summer worship is like fall or winter worship, just a little warmer. The same law is declared, the same gospel is preached, the same Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ still speaks for He does not change for any season but is the same yesterday, today and forever. Indeed this is why ‘various and strange doctrines’ come about: because people want novelty and change (Hebrews 13:8ff.) But God will do all the changing we need (Genesis 8:22).

So is church ‘out for the summer’? God’s promises cannot fail and thus no less can God’s people strive to always be active in the things of the Lord. For in reality there is no ‘me time’ or even ‘family time’. It is all God’s time. He is sovereign and He is Lord: He gave it to you not to do as you please but to please Him. Ponder these truths this summer as you serve Him in all that you do.

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