What to Do While You Drive To Church
How long does it take you to get to church? If you live in a big city, get ready to fight jealousy. It takes us less than 15 minutes. Ten minutes if we sin—I mean, speed—and about twelve if we catch what my wife calls the “green wave,” all-green traffic lights.
Over time, our rides to church have developed into a joy and a spiritual tool used by the Lord. I’d like to make three suggestions of how you might too enjoy your Sunday morning commute.
I once went to a church that gave each member a church-made hymnbook. It fit in our glove compartment, so we began to sing on the way to church. At the time, my daughter Eliana was about a year old. Rather quickly, she picked up many of the songs and began to expect that we would sing hymns every time we drove anywhere. We had to teach her that normally we only sing hymns in the car on Sundays.
Sunday Singing has become a normal and joyful part of our commute. Instead of just being frustrated with traffic and semi-annoyed at that same children’s CD we’ve heard for the umpteenth time, we often arrive at church with a happy heart, ready to learn and sing with the saints.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24–25).
Traditionally, and I think rightly, this verse has been applied to the local church’s gatherings. We shouldn’t neglect meeting together with our local church. Amen! But have we stopped to think about the other exhortations in these verses?
I want to focus on one: consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. I wish this were a well-worn tradition like our family singing. Nevertheless, it’s something we have done and try to do regularly. After we sing one or two hymns, we try to consider how to stir our fellow church members up to love and good works. We take a moment to consider how we can encourage them.
I don’t want you to envision some kind of monkish contemplation. I’m simply talking about using the homestretch of our drive to think about how we can help others. You might be thinking, “How much considering can a person do in a couple minutes?” Not much. But more than if we didn’t do it at all. It’s a start, not the end. But you may be surprised at what you can accomplish in 2 to 3 minutes of thinking about specific members you’ve already prayed for throughout the week.
Here are a few ordinary suggestions of how to do this. Think of a member that you know only superficially. Consider one question you would like to ask him or her: What have you been reading in the Bible this week? How did you get saved? (That’s how we talk in Kentucky.) Is your work culture difficult for you spiritually? Have you had any opportunities to boast in Christ or share the gospel with your co-workers?
Or perhaps you want to encourage someone. Consider thinking through a list of common sins: prayerlessness, not living with your wife in an understanding way, anger, laziness, etc. Or consider common sufferings: grief, chronic physical and psychological pain, financial struggles, etc. How might you encourage someone who’s struggling in these ways?
What about considering the specific command to “stir one another up to love and good works”? You might think through the ministries of the church, the places the Spirit is already at work. He will likely bring to mind a particular member in one of those ministries. All you have to do is ask the age-old question: “So how is it going with __________?”
The Spirit can take those two minutes in the parking lot and do far more abundantly than we can ask or think according to his power that is at work within us.
Finally, before we get out of the van, if our girls aren’t falling apart yet, we pray.
First, we pray because we’ve been given the commanded privilege to pray.
Because of Jesus sacrificial death on our behalf, we can confidently come to God in prayer. Jesus ascended into heaven and is at this very moment enthroned at the right hand of his Father, representing us as our personal priest. We get to draw near to him with a true heart and full assurance of faith, with hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19–22)
Second, we pray because the Accuser is active.
Confident, clean, pure, assured—these are the very truths we need to consider and confess as we pray. Forgetting these truths about ourselves is exactly how our Accuser keeps us from exercising the courage it takes to encourage and to stir up one another up to love and good works.
“Who are you to stir others up to love and good works? You can’t even get through a twelve-minute car ride without getting frustrated at your wife and angry at your children! You hypocrite! . . .”
You might not think you can do much. But Satan knows that Christ can do far more good to his body through you than even you think. Our Formidable Foe knows that sixty seconds of prayer is more than enough to keep us from just complaining about the weather and making small talk with our fellow members. So let’s pray because our Accuser is active and our Foe is formidable.
Third, we pray because only the Holy Spirit who will accomplish the goals of passages like Hebrew 3 and 10.
Don’t let my emphasis on the Holy Spirit lull you into “spiritual” lethargy. You are still vital and necessary. You are the means God means to use. Note how Hebrews 10:19–25 begins with the words “brothers and sisters.” The Spirit is speaking to us. We have confidence . . . let us draw near . . . let us hold fast . . . let us consider . . . encouraging one another. If the goals of Hebrews 10 are accomplished, if our fellow members are stirred up to love and good works and encouraged, it will be through us.
You may be internally objecting at this moment: “What about the preaching of the Word? Doesn’t the Spirit stir and encourage through the sermon?” Of course he does! But what is sermon preparation if not an extended consideration of how to encourage the congregation, of how to stir them up to love and good works while pleading with the Lord in prayer to do just that?
I love the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Don’t miss that last phrase. Church member, God is able to do far more abundantly than you ask or think through you, according to the power at work within you.
So as you drive to church, sing, consider, and pray. Just be sure to do it with your eyes open.