Sunday Ticket and Christ’s Church

Does Sabbath rest include ceasing from various leisurely activities?  Our confessions do not prohibit modest leisure or recreation.  Modest leisure may be appropriate as long as it does not remove or hinder fellowship, worship, and avoids worldly commerce.  Christians should remain separate from worldly pursuits—remember the Lord sanctified the day.[1]  The more commerce done on the Lord’s Day, the more Christians have to work on Sunday.  The Sabbath consists in performing holy works.  In order to do or receive them, we must avoid things that hinder or omit worship.  In this hyper-stimulated culture, we face many obstacles to sanctifying the Sabbath.  Sunday is the second busiest shopping day in America—ask anyone in the restaurant business and he will tell you that Christians pack the house on Sunday.[2]  One cannot do his religious duty at the mall or in front of a big screen, much less, dare I say, at a NFL game.  Will the NFL game conflict with your religions duty, acts of necessity, and mercy?  That is for you to decide, but if the church officers have called two worship services on Sunday, I don’t know how you will get around your commitment to Christ and his Church if the Dallas Cowboys are playing next year in January?  Better to be more committed to Christ’s church than to America’s Team.

If you need a place to worship this Lord’s Day, our service begins at 10:30am and I have NFL rewind so you can watch the game with me on Monday.

[1] Think of the day like your tithe, all your money belongs to the Lord, but a certain amount is specially given to the church for the Lord.  Every day belongs to the Lord and you serve him daily, however, Sunday is a special day because the Lord set it apart for a special purpose.

[2]Most restaurants classify them as the most difficult patrons and poorest tippers.  The worst of the bunch slip tacky tracks with less than 15% in place of a good tip.  Non-Christians with tenure, therefore, often refuse to work on Sunday resulting in Christians to fill the gap, see Clark, Recovering, 324.


Yahweh’s Sabbath

Sunday in America has become a day of relaxation, dare I say a day devoted to the NFL.  The Sabbath is a day for relaxation, however, and more importantly, it is Yahweh’s Sabbath (Ex. 31:13; 20:10; Lev. 19:3, 30; Isa. 56:4).  It is a day of resting and holding sacred assembly (Lev. 23:3).  Because it is Yahweh’s Sabbath, it is a gift and blessing for man (Mark 2:27).  Sabbath is a joy for man where he finds his deepest delight in the Lord. It is a celebration not to be missed (Heb. 10:25).  It is a day to celebrate justification and eschatological hope, to participate in the glorious hope to come.  It is a day of learning about the new-creation (heaven) to get accustomed to its ways of life—it is a day to enjoy God.  Christians do so by going to church for it is also a day of enjoying others, which is why the commandment speaks of equal rest for family, slaves, animals, and foreigners.  Therefore, it is a day of praying together as a family, discussing the service in Christian fellowship, and reaching out to the world.

The Sabbath is a day of Christian liberty not a day of bondage.  God did not design it to constrain Christians but to maximize their liberty.  It is one day in seven to be free from the demands of this world.  It is a day to rest from ordinary duties without feeling bad about it.  Christians have six days a week to focus on work and are not obligated to attend church in those days.  God has commanded six days a week to live in the common kingdom and to interact with the broader world.  Yet, God sets apart one day from this common kingdom and its ordinary cultural activities.  In doing so, the Sabbath offers a wonderful testimony to this world.

Christians share life, play, work, trade, etc. with their neighbors six days a week.  On the Lord’s Day, however, they do something different.  They come together to listen to a half hour monologue about the past, only to eat a tiny meal of wine and bread afterwards.  They sing about the blood, pray together, call each other brother and sister.  They speak a foreign language of free grace and in so doing show that the ordinary (common) is not their highest end or love in this world.  In that place stand this non-ordinary day and its duties.  Most Christians get this backwards as they baptize everything in the common kingdom throughout the week making a Christian ghetto with their own music, festivals, magazines, movies, styles, clothing, bumper stickers, etc.  Then secularize the Lord’s Day as much as possible.  They attempt to rob the unbelievers’ common world six days a week only to secularize the sacred that he might feel welcome.  He may but does the Holy Spirit?

I invite you this Sunday to Missoula Reformed Fellowship to enjoy the bounty of the Lord’s Day, to be refreshed by the preaching of the gospel and Christian fellowship.  Our worship service begins at 10:30am followed by a potluck and catechism.  This Sunday we will hear from Galatians 2:17–21 in the Divine service followed by a class on the Covenant of Works.

Sabbath! I Got to Work.

May believers work on the Sabbath?  This is an appropriate question if you want to follow the Ten Commandments.  Should Christian not go to work?  Should we quit our jobs if they make us work on Sunday?  The short answer is no.  The law of society dictates the necessity to work on the Sabbath.  For instance, the social order cannot function without the help of police, fire department, military, doctors, etc.  These occupations within our civilization must continue everyday.  Christian fireman for example may have to work on the Sabbath.  Failure to do so could harm society.  You would not be a good neighbor if you let his house burn down.

Every culture is different.  In the past in an agrarian society, it was easier to keep the Sabbath.  A farmer could put off baling hay or harvesting crops without affecting society and Christian farmers would on the Sabbath.  There were, nonetheless, situations in which he or she had to work on the Sabbath out of necessity.  For instance, weather and the natural cycle of crops deemed work on the Sabbath necessary from time to time.  If they failed to harvest on a particular Sunday they could have adversely affected the community.  These situations are limited in agrarian societies and rule of necessity does not often apply.  Most Christians were and are in church every Sunday in these societies.

A modern society, however, overwhelms the particulars with utilities, public transportation, crime, hospitals, etc.  One cannot overlook the increase of particular duties that modern society places on the Sabbath.  It may be necessary for believers to work on the Sabbath and more so in our society.  You may simply need to put food on the table.

Nevertheless, we should not use necessity as license to forgo church completely.  God calls us to honor the day by going to church.  We should do everything in our natural power to attend church.  Public worship is necessary for the ordinary means of grace.  Failure to attend church is failure to attend to the means of grace, failure to have your soul nourished and refreshed for eternal life.  If you are able this Lord’s Day, I invite you to attend our worship service.  Out of necessity for the power of God unto salvation, we will preach what you need—the gospel (Rom 1:16).