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Eternity 42 - The Sabbath Was Made For Man
Mark 2:2728 LITV And He said to them, The Sabbath came into being
for man's sake, not man for the Sabbath's sake. (28) So then the Son of
Man is Lord of the Sabbath also.
Is the Sabbath made to refresh the saints or are the saints made to observe the Sabbath? Are Christians made to serve the church or is church there to serve Christians? Are programs for people or people for programs? Are bible studies to grow believers or believers to grow the number at bible studies?
The point is that God has designed religion to help us to grow into mature, loving, whole, joyous, and blessed persons. He has not designed religion to be a treadmill for us to earn spiritual brownie points.
God's objective is to have sons and daughters in Heaven, mature in Christ
and happy in God. Thus God does not measure success in terms of church attendance
or buildings or programs but in terms of "blessed, mature saints".
When Jesus healed someone He did not say "Now make sure you turn up at church next week!". He seems wonderfully unconcerned with how much religious activity people are engaged in.
Jesus never says "You should pray three hours a day" or anything like it. And there is no hint, anywhere in the New Testament, that you should sacrifice family life for being on church committees.
Being committed does not mean "doing a lot of religious activities". Rather it means bringing every thought and every action into submission to Christ. It means being loving, kind and honest at work, at home, at church, on holiday..everywhere. Its living the Kingdom lifestyle "24/7".
It does involve obedience - but to Christ and the Scriptures, not necessarily to the demands of Christian organizations. Your Christian activities are for you. They should leave you better off and more blessed at the end of the day.
They should not wreck your family or your health or your peace of mind.
You should grow as a more whole and better person as a result.
If a religious activity blesses you and others - then keep on with it, but if it is just a burden, or if it is sending you backwards spiritually, then get rid of it.
As a busy missionary I can easily "do too much" in the way of spiritual activity and at a certain point "the fruit drops off the tree" - that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, meekness, self-control etc - start vanishing. (Joy and Patience tend to drop off first!)
When this happens then I am "too busy" and I have to have a look
at my schedule and think of creative ways to cut down. You may have to look
at your life and your "fruit tree" and make a few decisions. For
me Sunday (except when I am preaching) is a total rest, one service in the
morning, sleep in the afternoon, watch TV with my wife and chat in the evening.
Its time for Minda and I to be "just us" to relax and be refreshed.
The Sabbath is a day we look forward to with joy.
To be able to find rest and enjoy God we have to realise that we already have all the spiritual brownie points we want "in Christ".
There is no point huffing and puffing on a religious treadmill. We are approved by God already - in Jesus.
That's what justification means, that's why Paul says there is "no condemnation" for those in Christ Jesus, that is why Romans 5-8 tells us that all believers have the love of God poured out on them in abundance.
God has not made us to be slaves on a religious treadmill. No! Not at all! God has made us that we might have life - and have it abundantly.
I once served on over 30 Christian committees simultaneously. For a while I felt rather important but it was NOT the abundant life! It was the hurried, harried, stressful life!
When Paul writes of "leading a tranquil and quiet existence in all godliness and dignity" (1 Tim 2:2) I am sure he did not have modern evangelical church life in mind.
Lets look at that phrase again " a tranquil and quiet existence".
Sounds good - and its what God wants. Now remember the Sabbath was made
for man, not man for the Sabbath - and programs are for people - not people