I recently had a frantic week; which left me dropping into bed on Friday night feeling totally punch-drunk.
I was looking forward to a relaxed Saturday, browsing the papers, drinking coffee and even doing a little bit of shopping.
It came and, as I was standing at the cash machine, a man rushed ahead of me trying to bunk the queue. Realising this he quickly apologised before going back and standing behind me again.
I insisted, however, in giving way to this man who appeared more than a little stressed and was certainly much busier looking than I had wanted to be that particular day.
“Don’t worry, this is my leisure day, if I can get one,” I told him, adding: “After the week I’ve had, I’m not fighting with anyone, trust me.”
He just laughed, thanked me and we both took our cash and left.
Even before I had walked away, it suddenly struck me that while I have tried to claim Saturday as my leisure day, God also has His leisure day – it’s called “Sunday” or the “The Lord’ Day.”
The purpose of it is similar to what I have been trying to accomplish on Saturdays – to find breathing space, a time to switch off, reflect, regroup and yes - even to rest.
God told Moses and the Children of Israel - “Six days may work be done, but in the seventh is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord”. (Exodus 31:15).
By working 24/7 we often end up feeling a little bit like how I felt at the end of my frantic week; totally shattered and unable to think straight. We lose perspective and lose sight too of just what’s important in life.
God’s day of rest was planned with this purpose in mind. It was not just formed to bring us closer to God – a wonderful benefit in itself – but was also intended to reinvigorate us and refresh us from the stresses and strains in this life.
This generation seems to have failed to recognise that God has provided a day of rest for each of us. Anything goes nowadays with society even encouraging this line of thinking. The Sunday opening of pubs, clubs, shops and just about everywhere else has desecrated the Lord’s Day and reduced it to just another day of the week. Even many of the major sporting events now take place on Sundays.
As Christians we are not to be influenced by such changes in our society. The apostle Paul exhorts us: “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans12:2.)
In other words: “the world does not set the standard for the Christian; Christians should set the standard for the world. “
In the 10 Commandments, God instructs His people: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shall thou labour and do all they work.”(Exodus 20, 8:9)
We thank God for doctors, nurses, transportation folk, and other vital professions which must perform their vocations on God’s Leisure Day, yet in the majority of cases, the abuse of the Lord’s Day is still very much apparent. It is often counter-productive and self destructive leading to consequences regarding not keeping the Lord’s Day holy.
God has set aside Sunday not just for His glory, but for our common good also.
God knows our human limitations. He doesn’t wish for us to over exert ourselves. In His great wisdom, God predicted that man working seven days a week, without time to pray, worship, or to rest, would become a recipe for disaster.
He knew that we would require one day a week to fellowship with Him in order to keep our hearts in tune with His heavenly vision for our lives; hence the Lord’s Day is equally crucial in terms of our spiritual development. God can speak to us on the Lord’s
Day in ways that we don’t necessarily hear from Him the other six days of the week. Maybe this is because we are finally in a place to listen.
The apostle John once wrote – “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet, saying I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” (Revelation 1:10, 11.)
Once we are in the spirit, the Lord’s Day can be any day of the week, of course, but there is nevertheless something precious about Sunday and the Lord’s Day as we know it. John saw a great vision and was told to go and write it in a book and send it to the seven churches and we have been blessed ever since with the magnificent book of Revelation.
So let us not be tempted to make Sunday just another day. Sunday is the Lord’s Day.
It’s a special and holy day - a day of refreshment and revelation - one which ought to be set aside exclusively for God.
Moreover, don’t be tempted either by the lure of the big department stores or even by online church services, which are a blessing to sick people and to those on holidays, but are not a replacement for the real thing, which is God’s house and the fellowship of his people.
Rather let us be out in our place every Lord’s Day – and, like Eric Liddell, that famous Scottish athlete who refused to compete at the Olympics because they were staged on a Sunday - let us make a statement to the world that “God’s Leisure Day” is still very much in vogue for the Christian.
Then - and only then - will we truly be ready to face the challenge of another frantic week.