Michael Horton’s phrase, “Christless Christianity” gets a lot of play in our blog, magazine, and radio program. One of the more timely evidences of the problem will be on full display this Sunday, December 25th. We’re already hearing reports of churches that after offering a slew of programming on Christmas Eve will shut their doors on Christmas Day.
Not many Reformational churches will have this problem. They have a high enough view of the Lord’s Day that their services will still be held Sunday. But one problem they will face is the absence of some of their members, who because of family commitments and tradition will skip the service(s) in order to open presents, eat a big meal, and enjoy out of town guests.
One pastor shared his frustration with us and gave us permission to post a slightly edited version of his exhortation to the men of his congregation:
I can’t believe how ridiculous this is, but I am writing tonight to urge you to take your families to church on Sunday, December 25th. Before it is a holiday, before it is a family gathering, before it is anything else it is a Sunday: a day set aside by God himself to worship. It is a day that your elders have called the church together to worship. It is a day that you should be actively planning to take your family to church.
There is no excuse, not one, for not taking your family to church on Sunday. There may be some of you who will be out of town; find a church and take your family there. There will be some of you who are in town; you know where and when we meet. There is no reason for missing church on Christmas Day. In fact, a good argument can be made that of all the days to worship God, we should worship on Christmas Day. If we do not you are telling your family, your wives, your children, and your neighbors that Christmas isn’t really about Jesus at all. It will instead be about you, your family, your traditions, gifts, parties–everything that you will spend the next 12 months complaining about.
Some of you are part of extended families who have already made plans. Let me offer this piece of advice: be a man. Man up and tell your extended family that you are looking forward to seeing them and spending time with them but first you will take your family to church. It is your duty as a husband and father; it your responsibility; it is also your privilege.
This morning we read of King Ahaz in Isaiah 7 who despised the promise of the presence of God. It is easy for us to sit in judgment of the stupidity and hubris of Ahaz. But are you in danger of doing much the same thing? God promises to meet you and your family when you worship him. What possible reason can you have for turning away from that promise? What message does that send to your children?
I didn’t think I would have to write this email, but after several different conversations with people who could go to church on Christmas but are not going to, I felt I had no choice. It is my divine duty to call you out. This is not the life of discipleship that you are called to; this is not the obedience that you are obliged to; this is not what I want the men and potential leaders of _______ to be known for.
Go to church.
For a few more posts on the subject, see:
- Pastor Chris Gordon on The Christmas Controversy
- Pastor Jason Stellman on The Treason for the Season
UPDATE: Dr. Horton weighs in on this discussion.