Ask how someone is doing these days and you’ll often hear “Busy, really busy”. I don’t doubt it. We seem to have more to do and less time to do it in. And the older we get, when we get home during the week, we’re tired, and we just want to have dinner, and maybe relax a little with that TV program we’ve been binge-watching. That leaves the weekend to catch up on other things that need to get done – yard work, laundry, shopping, home repairs, etc.
The creation story tells us that God finished the work He had done and rested on the seventh day. He blessed that day and made it holy. As we are made in His image, we should rest on Sunday as well.
The workplace changed significantly from the beginning to the end of my career, primarily due to technology. There was no email, no smartphones and there were standard beginning and endings to the workday when I began my career. The organization I worked at even had chimes to start and end the day and for lunch break. Now, workers are always connected. And many, including Christians, use Sunday to catch up on work that has built up from the previous week. In addition, many youth sports traveling teams compete on Sundays, often conflicting with worship services.
What does the Bible say about activities on Sunday?The fourth commandment states:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and 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: 8-11
The church I am a member of is a part of a denomination that subscribes to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1647) as its secondary standards, with the Bible being the only infallible rule of faith and practice. As an officer (elder) in the church, I take a vow to “sincerely receive and adopt” these confessional documents “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.”
The Westminster Shorter Catechism question 60 asks: How is the sabbath to be sanctified? The response is:
“The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.”
As a whole, our culture treats Sunday as just another day in the week. But we were made to need rest. My pastor, Bob Smart, tells us in his book Calling to Christ: Where’s My Place, that until we learn to deeply rest and separate ourselves from our work, we won’t work effectively.
What about sports on Sunday? We can’t say that sports would fall into works of necessity and mercy. A good model here is Eric Liddell. Many are familiar with Liddell from the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, which won four Oscars, including for best film. Liddell, known as the “Flying Scotsman” was favored to win the 100 meters in the 1924 Olympics held in Paris. But he chose not to participate in the race because it was to take place on a Sunday. He was heavily criticized for his decision, but he didn’t compromise, holding fast to what he believed the Bible taught. Instead, he ran the 400-meter race on a different day, setting a world record in the process.
This is another change that I’ve experienced in my lifetime. Growing up all businesses and restaurants were closed on Sunday – except for the Walgreens pharmacy at our local mall. Now, it is the exception for a store to be closed on Sunday. Closing on Sunday, or 14% of the week, could be looked at as a real burden for a business in an ever-growing competitive environment. That’s why I really respect Chick Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, two successful businesses that are closed each Sunday. Chick Fil-A’s founder Truett Cathy made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose. One of Hobby Lobby’s principles is “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles”.
All this to say, why not get some rest this Sunday? After attending worship service at your church of choice, and enjoying lunch, why not take a nap before attending your small group gathering or evening service. Relax and rejuvenate your body for the week ahead. You’ll be faithful to the Bible and it will give you energy going into the next week.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you treat Sunday just like another day, a day to catch up on things – work-related or home responsibilities – you couldn’t get to during the week? Do you allow your children to participate in sports events while missing out on the worship service?
Hebrews teaches us that eternal glory is a Sabbath rest: Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. Hebrews 4:11 (ESV). Lord, help us to view the Lord’s Day as a foretaste of heaven.