Bridging the Sunday – Monday gap
For many Christians the highlight of their week is the Sunday service. Sadly many believe this is where the Kingdom of God is primarily expressed. Ministry is confined to that which is done within the church. This is demonstrated in the true story of a young lawyer who was asked what her ministry was. She replied “I teach Sunday school at my church” What a travesty!! Nothing she did during the week in bringing justice, compassion and resolution to the world in which she worked counted, in her mind, as having any spiritual value. How can we change people’s thinking to break free of this Sunday/Monday dichotomy?
Simply put we need to disavow the concept that divides the world into secular vs sacred, private vs public, faith vs work and charity vs justice. When we understand the Kingdom of God it is evident that everything is sacred because God is the creator of all things and nothing exists outside of His love and compassion. Our faith makes us responsible to bring the Kingdom into every area of life. In the words of Justine, a Burundian living in Rwanda, “I see what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God. I see that it’s about changing this world, not just escaping it and retreating into our churches. If Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God is true, then everything must change. Everything must change.”
What a profound insight – when the Kingdom is expressed – everything must change. The change begins in us and then it finds its expression in the world in which we live and work. It is about bringing God’s mercy, compassion, justice and righteousness into every sphere of His creation. So our lawyer friend has the opportunity and responsibility to bring about change in her chosen field of endeavour by using her gifts, training and experience to be an agent for change – an agent for the Kingdom.
One of the reasons many people switch off from Christianity is that we represent a faith that has no relevance to them. Henry Drummond, writing to his own generation many years ago put it powerfully. “It is because to large masses of people Christianity has become synonymous with a Temple service that other large masses of people decline to touch it…..what they cannot follow, and must evermore live outside of, is a worship which ends with the worshipper, a religion expressed only in ceremony, and a faith unrelated to life.” What a challenge – our faith has become self-centered and irrelevant to the real world.
What we are looking at is a rediscovery of Kingdom theology. This has many aspects but one of the starting points is the doctrine of the Trinity. In a recent Lausanne paper on ‘Market Place Ministry’ the following conclusion was presented. ”To bridge the gap in our partial perceptions of God’s work we need to be more thoroughly trinitarian instead of having in practice a unitarian (one person) theology playing favourites with the Trinity. We need to develop a three mandate/commission theology (see diagram)”
|Social Justice, art & politics, responsible dominion||Evangelism, discipleship, personal ethics||Emotional health and spiritual power, signs and wonders, worship|
|Creation commission||Evangelism commission||Relational commission|
In these three commissions we see that the breadth of the Kingdom. “We are called to be part of God’s new creation, called to be agents of that new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting.” (Wright) The Kingdom is expressed in a wide variety of passions. Once we see the vastness of the Kingdom it helps understand how other people can be equally passionate about a range of issues that may not stir our hearts. This passion is an expression of the heart of God for His creation. We are to pursue the passion God has given us but equally to validate and appreciate the passion He has put in others.
When it comes to the church we can think of Sunday as the church ‘gathered’ and Monday as the church ‘scattered’. Sunday then becomes a time to strengthen, encourage and equip Christians to take the Kingdom into their world. As church growth expert, Eddie Gibbs says, churches should shift from an invitational, ‘Come’, seeker service strategy (which works in largely churched suburbs) to a ‘Go’ strategy of dispersal, with a sustained commitment to infiltrating each segment of this fragmenting world. The work place becomes a focal point for producing the Kingdom. As Kevin Costa, a London-based investment banker, states: “If the Christian faith is not relevant in the work place, it is not relevant at all.”
So from a Kingdom perspective there is no difference between Sunday and Monday. It can be argued in fact that what happens on Monday is more important.