Sabbath | Part 5

Pastor Chris continues our Sabbath series with Part 5 on the topic of Sabbath for Worship. Just like when Pastor Patrick taught a few weeks ago, the Sabbath is not just about us and if we happen to get a nap or not on Sunday afternoon. There is more at stake when we do not rest.

Culture and society around us teaches us a lot about life, but this was not always the case. The church was once the one with the influence. Towns would shut down on Sundays because of church. No shopping, restaurants, or gas. The only driving which took place was to church and then back home. You would have to specifically plan for this shut-down on Sundays.

But slowly over time, society opened their stores and this reset of the economy and world around us ceased to exist. Can you imagine if this happened today? This is just an example of one of the areas in which the church has ceased to be influential in society. And no wonder our struggle and conflict when the Bible tells us to take 24 hours and stop. The world keeps going around us and it puts us at odds.

In a very real way, the Sabbath puts the church at odds with the world because it reorients the church’s relationship to time and even offers the world a prophetically different way of imagining its orientation toward time.  The story continues today as the church has uncritically assimilated its life and sense of time into the life of the world. We learn about sexuality from our culture. We learn our leadership techniques from corporations. And we live according to the time of the world.

The Sabbath means more that just if you happen to have time to go to church on a given Sunday. For Israel, Sabbath was, for all intents and purposes, a visible sign to the outsider of one’s identity within the covenant community of Israel, announcing to the world who Jews were and who their God was. The Sabbath was not merely a day. The Sabbath was a sign to everyone—for generations to come—a “perpetual witness of the covenant between God and Israel.” (Exodus 31:12-13)

The Jews believed that if you wanted to know who knew God, you could tell by looking at their schedules. Certainly, we can clarify people’s doctrinal perspectives by discussing what they say they believe. But people’s schedules and budgets often reveal their doctrines more than anything they might say. One Jewish scholar goes so far as to say that if Jews do not keep the Sabbath, they run the risk of going extinct. It was that important for their witness to the world. Christian Sabbath-keeping is a calendared sign, a confession that Christ is Lord and we are not.

Sabbath is a worship issue. We so easily get entangled worshipping so many different things. If Martians came to Earth on our day of worship, what would they conclude we worship? Sports? The great outdoors? Brunches with friends? Concerts? Our kids sports? The day of worship, when Christians gather in the name of Jesus, is stuffed to the brim with so many activities that we neglect to do the very thing that we are called to do on that day—worship God.

What might keeping the Sabbath say to the world around you about the God you worship? Looking at your schedule, what might it reveal that you worship? What do you sacrifice rest to make time for?

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