Reflections: Spending Sundays with Jesus

A Sabbath and a Sunday are technically two different things, yet they are the same thing, spiritually speaking. To the Old Covenant Israelite, the Sabbath day was literally the last day of the week, lasting from sundown to sundown. Sunday, of course, is the first day of the week, from midnight to midnight. It is the New Covenant Sabbath, or Lord's Day, for the devout Christian. We should desire to spend all of our days with Jesus, especially the one we name after Him.

God ordained one day out of seven to be different. In keeping it, we become different people dedicated to God. Every seven days we are to refrain from our normal activities, gather with like-minded family and friends, and enjoy a day of holy worship and blessed rest. It is a divine commandment from our King, a written doctor's excuse from our Great Physician, and a formal invitation to share in the celebration of the Lord. Jesus did it right.

Jesus spent Sabbaths in restful enjoyment with family and friends. More importantly, Jesus spent Sabbaths in the public worship of God. Sabbath days in the Old Covenant and Sundays in the New Covenant begin with the gathering of God's people for the express purpose of worshiping God. Worshipers share His holy word, engage in the prescribed rituals or sacraments, offer prayers, sing praise and give offerings. For some strange reason, there have always been small circles of professing believers who are so enamored with individualism that they blow off this sacred commandment and divine opportunity. Jesus was not one of them. When you find Him in the Gospels on the Sabbath day, you find Him in a synagogue preaching, teaching and otherwise worshiping God.

We do well to recognize the importance of one day every seven. Every day is holy unto the Lord, but Sunday is especially the Lord's Day. In Christianity, the first day of the week, Resurrection Day, the Lord's Day, becomes the Christian Sabbath.

Once you recognize that Sunday is the Lord's Day, you have to decide what you are going to do with it and on it. Since it is the Lord's Day, I suggest you give it to the Lord. Worship Him, publicly and steadfastly, in the manner in which He has prescribed in the Bible. Fasten yourself to a people and place where, in Calvin's infinite wisdom, the word is preached, the sacraments are observed and the membership contains true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Do not fear if you are absent due to providential hindered of sickness, work or travel. Only fear if you are absent due to lack of desire to gather with God's people and worship God. A person who has no desire for the public worship of God has no desire for a personal relationship with God. A person who refuses to worship God because hypocrites are numbered with the people of God is himself a hypocritical, judgmental Pharisee. Christianity is indeed a saving relationship with God, not the ritualistic worship of God, but you cannot have one without the other. As Augustine said, "One cannot claim God as Father if they do not embrace the church as mother."

Once your desire and duty for public worship has been quenched, spend the remainder of the day in heavenly rest and holy comforts. This day is God's gift to you! Feel free, once you have pleased Him in worship, to enjoy yourself in any manner of rest and recreation that does not expressly contradict the word of God. The Pharisees may have collected a cadre of "thou shalt nots" for the Sabbath, but God really doesn't have that many. If it glorifies God, blesses others and pleases you, just do it, especially on Sundays.

Spending Sundays with Jesus should be holy, peaceful and, dare I say, fun. It should recharge your batteries, spiritual and mental and physical. It should improve your relationship with God and God's people. It should serve to enlarge the very essences of life, the glory of the Lord, the benefit of others, and the image of God in you. Spend every Sunday with Jesus, and it is likely that you will spend every day with Jesus, for now and eternity.

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. He is a graduate of Valdosta State University, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has served churches in Arkansas and Georgia, and preached the gospel across the USA and other countries. Email him at pastorchuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org.

Religion on 06/10/2017

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