Taking back Sunday
What does Sunday mean to you? Is it just another day? Another opportunity to shop, work, and make money? What about for your employer? If you can’t produce or accomplish enough in five days, do they expect you to work 6? And if you can’t get enough done in 6 days, do you work the 7th? For most Americans, Sunday is exactly that: just another day. But for all the money that we’ve made in our culture that is hopelessly devoid of any time set aside for family or worship, and for all the things that we’ve accumulated by using every opportunity possible to spend our earnings, are we any happier? As a society, have we seen any benefit at all to our obsessive work habits, and lack of disagreement to seven day work weeks?
Before I go on, I want to point out what God thinks we ought to be doing with the time that he’s given us.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. – Exodus 20:9-11
OK, so here God has made it pretty clear that the seventh day is the sabbath, and we shouldn’t be working. So what happened in American culture? Do we not know what the word says? Do we not care? Or is it that we have become so obsessed with consumerism and social status attained through monetary worth and material goods that we stress ourselves out making as much money as humanly possible so we can buy all sorts of stuff? I think it’s the last one.
Now you might be reading this and thinking “I don’t have a choice…I need the overtime.”, and I understand in many cases that might be true, but why do we need the money? Is it because you felt that you needed a new car? That you needed a huge engagement ring? Name brand clothes? A new, big, flatscreen HD TV?? The word need implies absolute necessity. Shouldn’t we trust God to provide the necessities?
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:25-34
So do we simply not trust the Lord? Yeah, I’d say that is a true statement. I think that for most Americans, God is simply a state of mind, a pick me up when you’re feeling blue, but not someone to trust and follow during our everyday lives. Humans are way too empirical for that. God sure is a fun concept, but we only truly trust ourselves and our own capabilities. Our God given capabilities. Y’know, the Israelites had a lot of trouble with that one too. God seemed to always provide just enough for them to survive while they wondered around in the wilderness, but they seemed to constantly groan for more, and worry about how they were going to survive. They didn’t trust that the Lord would provide, and they certainly weren’t conducting themselves in a way that suggested that they were in reverent fear of the Lord. Sound like any modern culture you know?
I personally think that we need to take Sunday back. Now, this seems to open up a whole can of worms every time I bring it up. There are endless arguments against this. “Didn’t the Jews celebrate Sabbath on Saturday?”, “I thought that the old covenant was fulfilled in Christ, and we didn’t have to observe the old laws?”, “I’m all for a little religion in your life, but don’t you think you’re taking this a little too seriously?”, etc., etc.
You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys them. Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. – Nehemiah 9:29
I don’t intend on starting a debate on whether or not we should observe the sabbath because of it being a commandment from the Lord, because that would open up a slew of arguments as to why we don’t follow hundreds of the other commands given in the book of Exodus and Deuteronomy. I’m not going to start an argument over whether or not Sunday is the proper day for a sabbath, because 1) I’m not Jewish, and 2) no one ever wins those kinds of battles, and entering them is pointless and hardly a way to honor the Lord.
What I am suggesting is, since Sunday is typically the day used for worship by Christians, that we use it for that purpose. If we are going to call ourselves Christians, we ought to be giving our time to the Lord. Worshiping, praising, and trusting in him. We need to step away from this thought that we don’t have time to spend Sunday in worship, because if we do, we simply won’t have enough money and won’t be able to provide for our families. Do we really think that the Lord will not provide? Employers need to take a step back and think about the situation too. Do they really think that they will me more profitable or more successful if they work their employees seven days a week? Do they think that God would honor that type of practice? This culture needs to wake up. We need to get back into the word. We need to spend our Sundays praising our Lord, rather than using it as another day to rely on ourselves for our provisions. You can call me crazy if you want, but if you’ve ever read the accounts of the “good kings” during the divided Kingdoms of Israel, or the accounts of the post-Exilic Jews, you’d see that simply getting back in the word, cutting out distractions and foreign “gods”, and setting time out to praise the one true God is exactly how you return blessing on a broken nation so that it can be what it was meant to be. Taking back Sunday is just the first step in a long process. If we turn back to God, we will be convicted of many other things, and will be led by the Spirit to make many other changes that would get us back into right relationship with the Lord. Forget “Occupy Wall Street”, we need to be thinking about how we are going to Occupy the Kingdom!
…or, we can continue being slaves to this oppressive society that keeps us bound by our material aspirations…your choice.