What Keeps Sunday’s Intention From Becoming Monday’s Action?
Sunday can be a great day, can’t it? We gather together with other believers, we hear from God’s word, we humble ourselves before Him in worship. Often times, we will leave church on Sunday with a decision to do this or that differently. I don’t have something specific in mind. It’s just that God’s word has a way of illuminating the things that aren’t in harmony with his plan for our lives.
So, we leave, with the best of intentions.
But, then something happens between Sunday and Monday.
What is it?
I think it can be boiled down to a few underlying problems.
We are too busy. I’ve been there. Still am from time to time. We’re busy with good things, (mostly), but we’re busy. We’ve got things to do on Sunday afternoon and if we don’t get them done today, they won’t get done until next weekend. So, we spend the rest of the day doing those things.
Then Monday morning comes. And, we don’t want to go to work (because we haven’t yet realized what a gift it is that God has blessed us with this job, and surrounded us with opportunities to live for Him…) so we hit the snooze button 7 or 8 times. We run out the door, cut in and out of traffic and make it to work a few minutes late.
Monday is a hard day, we have to work late, we get home late, rush dinner, sit down – exhausted, fall asleep on the couch and drag ourselves to bed.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…You get the picture. Of course you do, you’re living it.
Before we know it, it’s Sunday again and whatever we intended to do last Sunday is long forgotten. All we remember is that we were going do to something and we didn’t. Now we wrestle with the guilt which keeps us from getting up and getting to church.
Can I add something to your “To Do” list? Spend some time right now thinking about your schedule for this week. What can you cut out so you can make time for the most important thing – spending time with God.
We can’t live this life on our own strength. We need the resurrection power fueling us. When was the last time you spent time with him outside of church? If it’s been a while, you might need to create some more margin in your life. Give God some room to help you turn your intention into action.
2. Old Patterns/New Habits.
This one is similar to my first point, but still different. It can take anywhere from 21-42 days to develop a new habit. It only takes a few days to undo a good habit. If you’ve ever tried to do an exercise regimen, and had some success, then gone on vacation, you know what I’m talking about. You come back from vacation and try to get back into the swing of things and realize that those 8 days undid most of what we had been doing up to that point.
But for some reason, there are old patterns in our lives that keep us from being able to create new, healthy habits. We’ve had unhealthy ways of thinking, self-talk, time-management, etc. that have been ingrained into our way of life for so long that we just can’t get out of them. It’s like what happens when you move. You leave work to go home, only to find out your driving to what used to be your home.
What old, unhealthy patterns do you need to cut out of your life so you can start working on creating a new habit of putting your faith into action.
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. – James 2:14-17
3. Relying on the church/pastor for faith.
We may make a decision to follow Christ, get baptized and declare to the world that we are following Christ. But, then we stop, right there. We get comfortable, content and complacent. Our only experience with the God who created us, called us and redeemed us is vicarious. We don’t ever encounter or experience God for ourselves, we only experience Him through our pastor or church.
We have the presence of the Holy Spirit living with us and in us. But, we still treat that “with us” presence as a priest who has to intercede on our behalf. We all have access to the holy of holies, but the only time we ever go there is when our pastor takes us.
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:19-22
What if we took advantage of this reality that has been gifted to us? What if we started spending time with God each day? What if we prayed and read his word? What if we worshipped him by living a life of sacrifice?
4. Lack of supporting community/accountability.
The last reason I have is that we think we can do this all on our own. We don’t need no stinking help. I can follow Jesus by myself, thank you. That’s the world we live in, at least in this country. Like a local ad says, “We are fierce, independent thinkers.”
“Now, wait a second. Didn’t you just say I needed to do this on my own?” Yes, yes I did. You/I/we have to follow Christ on our own, we can’t rely on anyone else for that personal aspect of our relationship. But, a relationship with God is not only personal, it’s communal.
God himself is communal. God’s existence is community. Three persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit living together in an eternal relationship. Yes, we must pursue God on our own, but we must also pursue Him in community. We cannot live out all that is expected of us on our own, solopreneur power.
In fact, the verse immediately following that last verse is:
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:23-25
Plus, there will come a time in the not too distant future when you will need a little help. You may be walking through a trial, you may find yourself being persecuted for your faith or having some of the trouble that was promised to us as believers.
Who can you invite into your life who will support you in your walk? Who can you support in their walk? How can you help live out the communal aspect of the God who saved you?
Intentions are good, but if they don’t lead to action what’s the point?
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that the road to a deeper experience with God will not be found in the land of good intentions.