Bad Sunday

A day like today and I really wonder how many of the kids are true believers. I’m never tempted to believe that just because they’re “good” at church, they’re Christians. First, because I don’t know what they’re like outside of church. For all I know, they could be getting into fights in school, dealing drugs, and stabbing people in the back. Doubt it, but there are sins like pride, materialism, slander, covetousness, impatience, and laziness which I know they fall prone to outside of church. Second, because of days like today, when they really get on my nerves with their disrespectful and irritating behavior.

I was in a bit of a hurry today because I had to pick up Justin and Austin and go to Costco to pick up pizza for today’s lunch. By the time I got to church, it was already 11:15, which is when we’re supposed to start. So I quickly got set up and we began service. The A/C wasn’t working for some reason, and I was sweating and finding it hard to focus during praise, not because of the music but because no one was singing. It infuriated me to see in my peripheral vision people turning around to talk to one another and fool around during service. William left the room and came back a few minutes later. John came late because he was playing the drums for KM, which was fine, but then he left again and then came back, disrupting service even more. Grace walked in late during praise. Brian and his friend who was new didn’t come in until praise was almost over. I had noticed soon after praise started that they weren’t in the room, even though I had seen them outside as I arrived at church and parked my car. But we had to get started right away, and I forgot, among other things, to make sure everyone was in the worship room before we started. Random people kept opening the door–because I was in a rush, I hadn’t put up the “Worship in progress” sign on the door.

After another choppy prayer closing praise, Brian and his friend got up to leave and I asked them where they were going. They said they left their cell phones outside, and I told them to stay inside and get it after. At that point, before we read Romans 12, I scolded the group for behaving so disrespectfully. I tried to let go of any frustration as I spoke on Romans 12, and for the most part I did. Everyone was quiet and no one fooled around during the message. But I felt like even then, the Word did not penetrate.

I had spent the morning finishing and printing out what I was going to say about Romans 12 today. I started it Saturday night and wrote most of it before going to bed, so I didn’t feel in a rush in the morning to do the whole thing as in the past weeks. Here’s what I had. With help from Pastor Piper…

Build your life on the mercies of God. Romans 12:1 -> Present your bodies as a living sacrifice. Romans 6:13 -> Present your bodies as instruments of righteousness. Romans 6 is the why, Romans 12 is the how. We are merciful people because God has been merciful to us.

Paul begins with the command, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. 12:3-8 have to do with mercy within the body of Christ. Verse 3: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but think with sober judgment. Thinking with sober judgment means thinking about how we were once slaves to sin, enemies of God, and children of wrath. It means to think about how we deserved judgment and eternal punishment from God. But we were saved from such a terrible judgment! Psalm 130:3-4: “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” We once faced the terrible burden of guilt for our sins, but God has snatched us away from the flames through His grace. Therefore, let us never think of ourselves better than anyone else, because we deserved judgment just as much as anyone. That’s what it means to think of ourselves with sober judgment.

12:4-8: Do we come to church knowing that we are all members of one body? When you came today, did you think about how you could contribute to the church? God has given us all different gifts so that we could serve one another.

12:9-21: We have a long list of what it looks like to be merciful people, people who are a living sacrifice, people who think about themselves with sober judgment. These are short sentences that are easy to understand, yet so hard to live out in our daily lives. Notice that all of these commands have to do with our relationships with other people. How we treat others, especially in the church, is worship. Verse 9 says, “Let love be genuine.” The NASB says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Is your love real or fake? Do you outdo one another in showing honor? Do you show hospitality by offering to clean the table, saying hi to newcomers, or trying to involve everyone when we play a game? How do you treat others who treat you poorly? Do you curse them and return evil for evil or seek revenge? The essence of mercy is treating well people who do not deserve to be treated well. We did not deserve to be justified before God, forgiven, and adopted as children of God, but God did all these things. That is mercy.

I closed by going back to verse 5: “We, though many, are one body in Christ.” None of this is possible without Christ. Without Christ, there is no church, and Sunday just becomes a social club where we sing songs, eat lunch, play games, and go home. Without Christ, there is no mercy for sinners, and our good works mean nothing to God. But with Christ and in Christ, we become merciful people.

I found it so hard to pray as I finished because I had so many emotions in me: anger at the childish behavior, humility over my poor speaking skills, contrition in asking God to make His Word convicting, peace in the reassurance of the gospel. Are they true believers or not?

Justin, Austin, and Grace Kim were the only ones that didn’t get on my nerves. I felt so tired after service, and I told Justin to gather the kids for lunch. I was in a brooding (actually means gloomy or depressed, not angry) mood as we ate. I told someone else to pray for the food. Grace did, but only after Jisun said she would and then flaked.

During the meeting after lunch, where my mom led discussion about the sleepover we would have at our house later this week, the boys were incredibly annoying. I am a patient person. It takes a lot before I raise my voice or do anything angry. I wanted to take their phones and hurl them against the wall. Freaking little kids and their phones. I want to see their faces when they see their toys broken in pieces. They’re so attached to these things, and it irritates me so much. A few of them were talking loudly even while my mom was trying to get input from others. I know she was dealing patiently with it, because she can easily strain her voice and raising her voice would only make it worse. So when the new guy was blabbering and using his phone while Mom was talking, I told him to shut up. He didn’t know I was talking to him, but it quieted the room…for all of 2 minutes. It probably took a lot of people aback, because I never say anything like that normally. My mom even thought Austin said it and gave him a stern look (ROFL), didn’t even suspect me.

I held a lot of it in and did not forget what Romans 12 was about. The kids need to be disciplined, but I need to do it in love. I wish I could just give some of the boys a beatdown, but would it work or just make them resent me and rebel more? I’m not very excited about the kids coming over this week. I don’t want them bringing more of their friends so they can fool around even more. I don’t want our EM to turn into a social club and breeding ground for carefree, selfish, churchgoing babies. Was it because Andrew wasn’t there today? Though sometimes he lacks a patient love for the kids, I do appreciate his ability to get them in line. I hope he and I gain their respect. I hope the Word will cut through their hard hearts and change them.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Amber on September 24, 2008 at 8:10 AM

    Are you the pastor of the church? Worship is about you and God. While it is distracting to have people coming in and out, you have to be at a maturity level where you can press in to worship.

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