The fourth commandment says “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Seeing that this commandment takes up four verses (Exodus 20:8-11), it must be pretty important. Of course we should spend time with God every day, but the sabbath is special. It is a day of recuperation and rest from all the STUFF we have to deal with during the week (like a 24 hr. live pause). Since it is supposed to be different from the other days of the week, it is only appropriate that we do not do the same things on the Sabbath that we do every day.
To illustrate this point, I will tell you about a scenario I often see on TV. It is always a Sunday and not just any Sunday but a football Sunday (NFL, American football not soccer). A pastor (priest, minister or what have you) is preaching to an increasingly antsy congregation, some of whom look longingly toward the parking lot or at their watches in anticipation of the big game. Next thing you know, the congregation has thinned out and some, desperate to catch the kickoff are huddled around someone’s trunk trying to catch a glimpse on a portable TV (I guess it is smart phones now) and the pastor cuts the sermon short saying “go Steelers, Amen” (or something like that…I am biased).
These instances annoyed me to the point that I made a collective memory of them. I mean seriously? God asks us for one specific day out of seven and we cannot even give him that? (priorities, priorities) Yet, if something unfortunate happens, we call on Him expecting an immediate response right?
Another thing that concerns me is how people who seriously honor Sunday as the sabbath use calendars that show that Sunday is the first day of the week, not the seventh. I cannot condemn anyone because it is not my place to do so nor do I want to but I do question the logic. It is very difficult to keep the sabbath but one of the things that attracted me to Adventism was the fact that we keep the seventh day of the week (Saturday) holy. It is also fascinating how the word “Saturday” in other languages uses the word “sabbath” as a root (Sabato=Italian; Sabbat=German; Sabado=Spanish; Sabet=Arabic) which makes me even more inclined to believe Saturday is the sabbath that God was referring to in Exodus 20:8 (rather sunset Friday to sunset Saturday).
As I said before, keeping the sabbath is difficult (especially when Friday nights and Saturdays are used for most events or social activities) but it helps to have a filter for what is appropriate. When considering what activities I participate in on my sabbath, I ask myself the following questions: Would I do this in God’s presence? Will this bring me closer to God? Will this make God happy? Will this put me in a Godly state of mind? and Will I cause someone else to sin?. The first one usually stops me (usually meaning more often than not…90%). I put the last question in there because often when I say I cannot do something because it is my Sabbath, people will offer to do it for me. Well, if I think something is sinful, inappropriate or wrong to do on my Sabbath or otherwise and I have someone else do it for me, then I have encouraged someone else to do wrong on my behalf (even if they do not think it is wrong themselves). So in addition to making it easier to determine what is Sabbath appropriate, these questions aid me in determining what is appropriate for a Christian in general, even if I do not follow through all of the time.
Usually I am in church for a large portion of my Sabbath but now that I am in another city (and punked out about going to an unfamiliar church) I like to take walks. I get to enjoy God’s creations, exercise and learn how to navigate all at once (3 birds, 1 stone…booyah). I would also like to do more community service when it gets warmer. After I study my lesson, I even have plenty of time for artistic things I enjoy like painting, taking photos and writing poetry or blog entries.
There is a lot to consider and be wary of when it comes to keeping the Sabbath holy but I feel so complete when I do not break my Sabbath and spend it entirely with God. Even though it can be difficult with my secular desires and all, I could never think of my Sabbath as a waste. God thinks we are worth his time, is not he worth ours?