Most Christ-followers will agree that the Ten Commandments should still be observed. How many would say “we can actually now have other gods since Jesus has set us free from the law” or “it is fine to cheat on my spouse” or “there is no need to be honest anymore…that was SO Old Testament?”
Yet, in our American culture today, there is one Commandment law that most Christian groups ignore, and that many will butt heads with and WILL say it was for the past, that Jesus HAS freed us from it so we no longer need to observe it. Can we say that with one law, and agree that the rest are good for today, are right and are God’s way?
Strangely it is a law that is not even meant to be a burden! Why would we oppose someone telling us to just rest, especially if it is God telling us to do it? Exodus 20:8 says,
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day, therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Resting…how can it be so difficult? Many of us in the American culture have found our own worth in our busyness and so we go on; some of us have trusted in needing to bring in one day’s more income to support us and our families instead of trusting the promise of God’s provision; some of us are caught in our bosses “need” for us to work on our Sabbath day; and others of us have just not considered what we are doing!
This is where it gets hard. We can make the choice to inconvenience ourselves to honor the Sabbath rest, or go with the flow of our culture. Do we trust God really wanted us to rest; to spend a day with Him, being with our families and restoring our bodies from a week of work? Doesn’t it make sense? Don’t we want that for ourselves? Don’t we want it for others?
When we make the choice of going out to eat or shopping on the Sabbath, we are automatically making it necessary for someone else to break the Sabbath to serve us. Whether they are believers or not is inconsequential because God laid it out that even the foreigner should rest, which at that time would have implied someone likely of a different faith. I know many of us are tired of our friends and family being scheduled to work on Sundays. We are not entirely powerless over this area.
How can we ask God to hear our prayers for our friends and family to not have to work on Sundays when we ourselves are not doing anything to “lift the burden”? If we are shopping on the Sabbath, or going out to eat on the Sabbath, they have to work because of us. Will God listen to our prayers in this matter? Will we find favor with him to answer our request if we are ignoring him in this very area?
I began refraining from shopping on Sundays after I had been spending time in God’s word. I saw the enormous number of times the Bible mentioned how important Sabbath was and some of the consequences for not observing it, and I decided to make the change to honor God since he felt so strongly about it. It brought back to my mind a time at a previous job where I had to work on Sundays, and I had made the decision (in my mind, not yet in action) not to make others work on that day like I had to work.
This is a difficult shift…it is not easy if we have not been keeping the Sabbath a day of rest. The change is not an easy one when people around do not think the same way. It is at first difficult to cut one shopping day out of your weekend. I have had to become more mindful of making sure I have what I need in advance for Sundays and stock up on the necessities. I also found it difficult to let my family know I would not be going out to eat with them on Sundays or taking them shopping. This sometimes has placed my family in the situation of either leaving me out or observing something they would rather not have to consider, and being frustrated with me. However, as time has gone on, it has become easier and easier to be obedient in these areas. One gets used to the idea of preparing easy meals for your family the day before Sabbath to eat on the next day. You go shopping Saturday, and go without something that you run out of before Monday (Wow we can live without milk for 12 hours!). People eventually realize that it is a part of how you function, and they respect your beliefs. Eventually it becomes normal.
I am still aiming toward truly resting with God and my family on our Sabbath day. Frankly, it takes a lot of work to not work! But there is an amazing thing that happens when we truly rest. We are replenished. We enjoy life. We enjoy each other. There is time for creativity. There is time to be still enough to hear from God. Let’s work hard to enjoy our day of rest like God commanded! What a brilliant idea he has for us…rest.