As humans, we often complain about things that are going in the wrong direction. A while ago, a gentleman said to me, “Pastor, if you had the power to change things in our society, what would you change?” My answer was simple. “I would ask all church members to keep the Sabbath by gathering together to praise God.”
I was immediately challenged by my companion, who pointed out two mandates in the history of the United States that did not work: prohibition and blue laws. Because I know the person well, I jokingly said, “Did you hear what I said? I did not talk about the society at large; I was talking about the church.”
I agreed with him that prohibition and the blue laws failed because we tried to force things that are for the followers of God on those who do not want to follow Him. The blue laws told people who did not want to be in God’s house to behave as though they did.
I have talked with a number of managers and business owners on First Avenue (our main street) who are convinced that if they do not open on Sundays, they will not succeed. When I bring up examples of businesses that are closed on Sundays, they argue with me that those are the exception to the rule.
Within the last six months, our Bible studies covered two prophets from the Old Testament – Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I was surprised by the number of times that God said that the people of Israel were punished because they have not kept the Sabbath holy. One of the weaknesses of our church is that we are no longer keeping Sunday as a day of worship. Christians are no longer committed to being in church on the Lord’s Day and they are no longer committed to giving the whole day to the Lord. Because there is no regular commitment, children and their parents disappear when the traveling soccer or softball team comes along; when their niece has a baby shower at 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday they disappear; and when there is a graduation barbecue two hours away, they disappear. This happens so often that the exception has become the rule – they are absent more than they are present.
God’s intention for us as humans is to have one full day of rest. This day of rest is to remember the Lord God and to worship Him. In the Old Testament, we read that we should keep the Sabbath holy. In the New Testament, it states that believers should come together on the first day of the week. The idea is that followers of Christ were coming together because they completely understood that their Savior, their Lord and their God was worthy to be praised.
The Sabbath and worship are joined together. On the first day of the week, we celebrate both the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and Christ’s triumph over sin, death, and Satan.
For a revival to come, the church needs to awaken. This will happen when we are regularly wondering and marveling at the greatness of our God and willing to give Him at least one day a week when we come to worship Him with undivided hearts and minds. We do this not because we are obligated, not because we are under the law, but because we are in love with our Savior and God.