The Importance of the Sabbath
Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV) sums it up nicely here:
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 male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any
foreigner residing in your towns. 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.
Here we find the concept of keeping the Sabbath holy as it refers to God taking a day to rest after He created the earth in six days. (Whether you believe that it was a literal six days or not, the point remains that God took the seventh ‘day’ and rested.) The idea of taking time to rest and reflect with God is so important that God made it the fourth of the Ten Commandments.
The first point to realize is that the Sabbath is important – otherwise God wouldn’t have made a point to make it a day of rest and command us to honor it. Did God need to rest? Doubtful. But I do think that He wanted to make a point for us to understand the importance of taking a day of the week to rest. Working seven days in a row week after week isn’t healthy. Our bodies weren’t designed for it and God plainly instructs us to take a break – because it’s that important.
The Intent of the Sabbath
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:23-28 (NIV) Unfortunately, the Pharisees had a legalistic view of the Sabbath but Jesus revealed the real purpose or intent of the Sabbath: The Sabbath was for man – not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was intended to be a time for us to take time out of our busy schedules and reflect on the good things in our life – our relationship with God, our family and our friends. The fact that Jesus’ disciples picked some grain on the Sabbath doesn’t mean they were in violation of the idea that “Christians shouldn’t work on Sunday.” In fact, the disciples were doing the very thing the Sabbath was intended for – growing in your relationship with the Lord and spending time with your friends and family. It’s about stepping away from the things that hold our thoughts ‘hostage’ all week and taking just one day to rest and recover so that we’re rejuvenated for the next week’s work.
Unfortunately, the Pharisees had a legalistic view of the Sabbath but Jesus revealed the real purpose or intent of the Sabbath: The Sabbath was for man – not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was intended to be a time for us to take time out of our busy schedules and reflect on the good things in our life – our relationship with God, our family and our friends.
The fact that Jesus’ disciples picked some grain on the Sabbath doesn’t mean they were in violation of the idea that “Christians shouldn’t work on Sunday.” In fact, the disciples were doing the very thing the Sabbath was intended for – growing in your relationship with the Lord and spending time with your friends and family. It’s about stepping away from the things that hold our thoughts ‘hostage’ all week and taking just one day to rest and recover so that we’re rejuvenated for the next week’s work.
4 Reasons Your Kids Should Sit
with You on Sunday
Taking your child to a Sunday worship service can be jarring. Trust me, I know. It once gave me a concussion.
Years ago, we began introducing our 4-year-old son to the worship service, with all the potential misbehavior that entails. During corporate prayer he decided to lie down on the floor. Like a good dad I knelt over and told him to get up. Like a good son he obeyed, immediately and enthusiastically. A little too enthusiastically.
As he jumped up, the full weight of his 95th-percentile-sized head drove directly into my semi-opened jaw. My teeth sank into my tongue before sending the rest of my cranium upward, and for a fleeting moment I saw stars. Somehow I managed to make it through the rest of the service with a growing dull buzz inside my head.
The incident gave me a new perspective on impactful worship.
Not every instance of bringing our kids to the worship service is like that, of course, but it can be a difficult transition, both for our little ones and also for us. So if it’s that hard, why would a church encourage kids (not necessarily babies) to sit in worship with their families? Here are four areas why I believe this is helpful: discipleship, education, tradition, and opportunity.
At the core of Jesus’s Great Commission to his disciples (Matt. 28:18–20) is the call to make disciples of all nations—that is, all people groups. The “all” includes the very people within our own families, and the commission is not restricted to age. And making disciples is never an abbreviated event.
Hearing the gospel preached and seeing its effects in the worship of a local church family is a powerful way to make disciples. What better way for a child to be introduced to what it means to be a disciple than to experience life with disciples of all ages and levels of maturity?
Moses tells God’s people, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:6–7).
The words of God should be taught to our own children today. A corporate worship service in which Scripture is read, sung, prayed, and preached helps us as we educate our kids.
The art of listening to a sermon is not something easily obtained in our soundbyte- and social media-driven culture. There’s virtually nowhere else kids will learn this skill. Someone introduced to a worship service as a teen will have a much more difficult time learning how to listen to sermons than one who’s been raised to slowly appreciate the intricacies of this unique (and biblical) form of communication. Sitting in the worship service teaches them how to worship by listening to God’s Word—an invaluable skill for any Christian.
Evangelicalism has a long history of eschewing tradition. You might say it’s our tradition to not think much of tradition. But therein lies the rub. While we are right not to blindly serve tradition, there is no biblical prohibition on allowing tradition to serve us and our children. During my childhood, I was powerfully influenced by my grandfather giving the offertory prayer as I stood and sang beside my grandmother, who had the hymnal memorized.
Jude urges his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). The faith that was delivered to our predecessors is the same faith now being entrusted to us. While it’s possible to pick up bad habits from tradition, it’s also possible that tradition will guard us from falling into error. When novel teachings arise in the church, their very novelty can be a warning: If no one’s ever thought or done this before, is it wise for us to start now?
Even if our kids don’t at first understand everything encompassed in the readings, singing, and preaching—and make no mistake, they won’t—they will at least understand the people who love them and stand beside them.
This proximity gives us a prime opportunity to explain what they don’t grasp. Children hear more than you think. You’d be surprised at what 4-year-olds ask when you assume they’re tuned out. In worship, we have the opportunity to introduce our kids to a taste of the eternal—God’s saints celebrating him together. At the least, attending worship with your child may prompt them to ask you the reason for the hope within you (1 Pet. 3:15).
Transitioning kids to the worship service is difficult, but it’s a difficulty worth enduring. Yes, you may have a few months (or a few years) of distraction.
But the distraction won’t last forever, and you’ll be building on something that will.