Saturday, December 21, 2013

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy 1

What is the Sabbath?

Phillip Cary, in his book Good News for Anxious Christians: Ten Practical Things You Don't Have to Do, says: “Every time we turn to Christ in faith it is like a moment of Sabbath, a little foretaste of eternal rest and glory. The gift of that moment lies not in what we do but what we receive. It is the holy time set aside to receive the greatest gift of God ever has to give, which is himself, in his own beloved Son.”

What does this mean to the people today? For me personally. Today people want to be connected 24/7. 

I find myself waking up and checking out what is happening in Google+, Facebook and in my blog. 

Since I am ex-pat, living abroad, far away from most of my family and friends, this is the easiest, and sometimes only, way to keep in contact with the people I miss.

Besides my family and friends, I have met new people and made new friendships online. Many of these friendships are very meaningful and the people are real for me. We share our lives and we share our faith, we encourage each other and let each other know that we are facing similar challenges in our lives and faith.

There is a lot of talk about this phenomenon. People don’t exactly know how to deal with it. Many people talk about their “real-life” and “virtual” friends. Others say that people online are as real as the ones we meet elsewhere.

In churches there is talk about online services, online evangelism, online preaching and reaching out online to win more souls.

I want to think myself to be part of this.

All this seems good but still, people worry. 

Is it OK to use internet on Sabbath? Should we do it as Christians or should we keep ourselves away from the computer as part of the Sabbath rest? Will the computer only keep us busy and not allow the use of internet as a way to sanctify the day? 

Mark Buchanan says in his book The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God:  “Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”

There are people that feel this means we should not be online, we should turn off our cellphones and disconnect from the world.

I feel that we should not make rules and regulations. After all, like Jesus says in Mark: And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
It would be easy to say, "Don't use computer on Sunday!" "Turn off your cellphone during the Sunday!".

Rules are easy to make and easy to break.

But life isn't easy. What if someone uses the phone or computer to read Bible? What if they use it to listen to the Gospel and Christian music?

So, using the computer or phone to do "Christian things" is OK.

But shouldn't everything be then just Christian on Sunday?Does that mean watching movies on Sunday is a sin? Or going out with your family?

Here comes the difficulty of the rules.

Maybe we should explore further what Sabbath means in the Bible. Why it was given to people.

In Ezekiel we can find that the Sabbath is a sign of covenant between the man and God. God tells the prophet: Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy. (Ezekiel 20:12)

I think it is very important today to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. But there are different ways to keep Sabbath holy. As Emily Dickinson said: “Some keep the Sabbath going to church, I keep it staying at home, with a bobolink for a chorister, and an orchard for a dome. ”

This is the first part of three part consideration on what is the Sabbath. In the next part I will concentrate on the reason why God Himself celebrated Sabbath and gave it to men. 

You can find the second part of this series here.

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