KEEPING THE LORD’S DAY SACRED
DISCLAIMER: This article is not about sleeping more and working less. I have little patience with able-bodied people who are experts at avoiding work. I know, I know, pray for me.
Let me explain what I mean by “Keeping the Lord’s Day.” God gave the Sabbath to His people Israel. It was one day in a week (Saturday) to cease work and worship Him. He patterned it by His own rest on the seventh day after creation. Was God tired? Of course not. It was a pause of reflection, as an artist steps back to admire his handiwork. In time the people turned the Sabbath into a legalistic day. They made laws against looking in a mirror, taking a bath, rescuing an animal, and so on. Jesus reminded them that “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27).
While the Sabbath rest was important, it was just a shadow of the things to come (Col 2:15-17). Keeping the Sabbath today is like a child chasing their shadow. It is amusing yet futile. Our rest is no longer found in a day but in a person. Remember, Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Our day of rest became Sunday, when Jesus finished the work of redemption by coming out of the grave. Interestingly, Sunday was also the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came in power and the church was born. Hence, the first Christians began worshipping on Sunday (Acts 20:7) and called it the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10).
Although we no longer follow the Sabbath, the principle is still valid in keeping the Lord’s Day. Sunday should be a day set aside to go to church and honor God with our lives. Growing up it was understood that Sunday was church day. Nowadays people could care less. I am not condemning those who have to work jobs like public safety, health, or have shifts that require them to work on Sundays. Neither am I advocating a return to the “blue laws.” I am simply challenging us to make the Lord’s Day sacred again. Consider the example of R.G. LeTourneau, the inventor of earth moving machineries. He refused to work on Sundays. He was threatened with losing the contract. This seemed like a foolish decision during the Great Depression. But, God blessed him tremendously for that. Similarly, Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire) refused to compete in the 100m heats because they were held on Sunday. People were mad at him and mocked him. He held to his conviction. On a different day he won a gold medal in the 400m and set a world record (1924 Olympics). His motto: “God honors those who honor Him.”
Every American who cares about this nation should heed the words of that great Civil War General Stonewall Jackson. When he heard that Congress was considering mail carrying on Sunday, he wrote to his friend: “I do not see how a nation that thus arrays itself, by such a law, against God’s holy day, can expect to escape His wrath. The punishment of national sins must be confined to this world, as there are no nationalities beyond the grave.” Before getting called to the war, he not only faithfully attended church on Sundays but spent his afternoons in organizing and leading a Sunday School for the black community.
The Lord’s Day symbolizes victory and hope. Let us honor it and look forward to it. As one of my favorite preachers, Dr. S.M. Lockridge (famous black pastor from San Diego), would say “It’s Friday but Sunday is coming.”