Sunday, July 16
Over the centuries, the Jews managed to mess things up. Not that we would do any better, since we all inherited the sin nature. Their legalism became bondage. During the 400 year inter-Testament period the Pharisees embraced this practice, and set out to rigidly enforce it on all Jews. They thought this would please God. This false and legalistic pattern was consistently opposed by Jesus. He bluntly denounced it by saying that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27). In other words the Sabbath was meant to benefit man, not put him under bondage. Since this legalistic practice did not please Jesus, the Pharisees concluded that Jesus could not be God. The Sabbath became a stumbling block that led them to reject their Messiah. As I meditate on this, I can’t help but wonder how Jesus would react to how we Christians celebrate the Sabbath today. How much do we joyously celebrate God’s goodness and worship him on this day that was set aside for that purpose? Some of us don’t even rest in the usual sense of the term. We are like the toddler in his “go-go” stage, a never ending quest to have fun and satisfy our egotistical desires. We make token efforts to comply with what God intended for this day, but our hearts are not really in it. We mentally check it off as “I did my duty” and proceed to satisfy our own pleasures. Our feeble efforts to please God have become “works,” while our hearts are really centered on self rather than on God. Addendum: If we are all commissioned to work for God, we need to “recharge our batteries,” which is what Amy Boucher Pye had in mind with her Guidepost comments. But if you have not been doing the work God assigned you to do, you do not need or deserve a rest. Something to think about! Caveat: Let us not forget that there are many churches and a multitude of Christians that are pleasing God by the way they live their lives—on the Sabbath as well as the rest of the week.