Too tired to come to church? Too tired to assemble with the saints? Rationalizing, “If I go to church I’ll just fall asleep anyway…I’m so tired I wouldn’t get anything out of it anyway…” Have you ever noticed how often our excuses begin or end with…”anyway?” O.K., maybe those thoughts are true…sometimes. And even maybe they have some validity – if they don’t become the norm – especially on a Sunday. But there is a hidden danger in even allowing oneself to think like that. There is the hazard of allowing ourselves to become too tired to worship with the saints. Do we possess, do we crave, the same zeal as the first century Christians? Are we filled with the Holy Spirit, or is our spirit filled with holes?
Let’s consider the believers of Troas: On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight (Acts 20:7)
We know Paul spoke until midnight and only then stopping when interrupted by the sleeping, falling and the dying of Eutychus. But when did he begin preaching? We do not know, although I would not be surprised if Paul spoke for a very lengthy period of time due to his plans to leave soon.
Concerning Paul in Iconium, it says, Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace…, (Acts 14:3).
Judas and Silas, in Antioch encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message (Acts 15:32).
Paul, like other preachers, possessed urgency in his preaching that called for people to be awake both physically and spiritually. In Paul’s preaching and writing, he warned against spiritually sleeping: For this reason many among you are weak and sick and a number sleep (1 Corinthians 11:30). He sounded the alarm, “Awake, sleeper; and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14). Whether we are speaking or listening, we need to have the same urgency. We are here to hear. We are awake physically to be awakened spiritually.
Personally, I cannot stand boring sermons – especially when they are mine! But as an aside, during a sermon what captures our attention – our Bibles or our watches? Are we busy taking notes or passing notes?
Many new Christians in the 1st century were slaves. They couldn’t meet with the saints until after their masters said their day had ended. They knew nothing of a 9-5 job, or 8-6, nor probably even 7-7. When did they work? When they could see…and probably beyond; plus whenever their masters commanded them. Constantine didn’t free slaves from working on Sunday until 321 AD. Most likely, Christian slaves met at night – with a long day behind them and a long day ahead. They came. They stayed. Can you imagine them excusing themselves that they were too tired? They came to break bread, together. Not having physical freedom they cherished even more their spiritual freedom.
How about us today? Let’s look at two examples: 1) Working; 2) Being too tired.
Unlike slaves in the 1st century with no personal or religious rights and freedoms, we are protected by our constitution from our government – and our employers – to practice our religion freely. Civically and physically we are free – maybe too much so that we do not appreciate enough our spiritual freedom. Do wee allow our freedom to complicate our lives unnecessarily? Do we fill our free time with even more work, overtime, second jobs, and hobbies? It is actually against the law for an employer to force us to work on Sunday or else be fired. When we take a job, do we let our employer know that we are not free to work during service times? Are we afraid we might not get a job, or miss a promotion or a pay raise if we make a fuss? Do we trust in God or ourselves? Are we putting the kingdom of God first or our pocket books?
2) Too Tired
When do we start preparing for Sunday morning services? Do we mistakenly think, “Sunday morning, of course!”? We need to start much earlier. We need to start the night before. Admittedly I’ve even fallen asleep during services…when I wasn’t preaching. But that was due to staying up too late on Saturday night. Do we go to bed early enough to be awake during services the next morning? As parents, do we ensure our children get their sleep – outside of church services? Do we let them stay up as late as they want to on Saturday?
Too tired to assemble with the saints? Have we worked too hard? Jesus came to work and He worked hard (John 5:17). I don’t know anyone who is not tired, but that didn’t stop the 1st century Christians. And it didn’t stop Jesus either. Aren’t you grateful that Jesus wasn’t too tired to come?