For the Love of God (and others), Be on Time

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  • May 15, 2013

On Sunday, I was sitting in my chair waiting to get the nod from Siby that I could begin our service with the Call to Worship. The clock said 10:10 when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and one of our older gentlemen (we’re a young church, so “older” is relative and anyone north of 45 qualifies) crouched by my seat and whispered in my ear.

“What’s with the people here never being able to get here on time? Every Sunday I wonder, why can’t anyone show up at 10am?” 

I laughed nervously and stammered some kind of explanation. “I know brother. I don’t know what to tell you. We do our best to start by 10:10.” He was gracious, said the whole thing with a smile, and returned to his seat.

The whole thing was kind of funny. Except, not really.

Every week, our service begins with about 20 adults in the room (this Sunday, we had about 10). And then about 20 minutes in, we’re four to five times that amount. That’s a lot of people who are showing up late. Consistently. We’re not talking about an alarm clock that didn’t work or an odd bad morning. We’re talking about lot of people who show up to work, meetings, and appointments on time but consistently show up to corporate worship late.

It’s sounds like I’m browbeating, so let me make some qualifiers before continuing.

1. This is not aimed at visitors or guests. When guests come to your home for dinner, you don’t expect them to set the table or wash the dishes or help with the chores. A guest is to be welcomed and served. Same thing at Seven Mile Road. We don’t expect newcomers to give money, help clean, set-up, serve, or show up on time. We have no expectations other than that they would be welcomed and served by the members of God’s household. But if you call Seven Mile Road home, then you’re part of that household and what is expected from family is different than what is expected from guests.

2. I love you. I love you whether you show up 15 minutes early or 15 minutes late. Our righteousness is found in Jesus, not in being on time. God doesn’t judge you based on your tardiness, so I certainly have no reason to. The purpose of this post is not to be critical or condemning. The heart behind this post is love. And sometimes love includes humble correction. That’s my aim in this post. So if you’re a member of Seven Mile Road church who is consistently late, this post is for you and I love you. The two are are true, at the same time.

So then, in four upcoming posts, I hope to present to you a compelling case why for the love of God and others, you should make every effort to be on time for worship. Here’s what to look for in the coming days.

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road.

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