Tuesday, May 27, 2014

27 May 2014

Exodus 16:21-17:7

When I was growing up in the 60s, most people recognised that Sunday was a day of rest, a Christian Sabbath as it were.  Early Christians celebrated the Eucharist on Sunday, because Yeshua rose from the dead on Sunday, and because the Holy Spirit was given on a Sunday.  Sunday was regarded as the 8th day of creation, because Yeshua by his death and resurrection made everything new.  It was natural then that the day of rest would pass from Saturday to Sunday, and when the Emperor Constantine declared that no work should be done on Sunday, he was basically reflecting what the church was already practicing.  

The Blue Laws of Texas, today have all but disappeared, and according to several friends of mine who work at grocery stores, Sunday is now the biggest shopping day of the week.  The lesson from Exodus indicates that we are to have a day of rest, not only a day of resting in the Lord, but a day of rest, no work, a day that can be spent with the family relaxing.  As the blue laws have disappeared we see less unity.  I know some Mexican families who go to the park at 11:00 at night, because Dad works 7 days a week, Mom has off Tuesday, and the kids are in school Monday through Friday.  Some people claimed the blue laws harmed them, but personally, I see that many things were better when they were in place.

Of course I know many of you have to work on Sunday, you no longer have a choice as the forces of secularisation take over.  But for those who do have a choice, working on Sunday shows we don't trust the Lord.   Over the years, I have found that when I give God my tithe, and my time, he meets my needs.  I am not getting rich by any means, but I am blessed with what I need.  God was unhappy with those who went out seeking Manna on the Sabbath, because they were demonstrating that they did not trust God to take care of us.

Of course the world is against having Sunday off.  Somehow it offends them, and they  want to make sure everyone has the right to work on Sunday and not have time off with their families.  We Christians too, have forgotten that we are to be salt and light to the world, i.e. we are to change it.  Laws forbidding work on Sunday go all the way back to Constantine, and all the way back to Alfred the Great among English speaking Christians.  Christians have changed countries and the world in the past, and we can do  it today.  The family and congregations are both hurt because most retail businesses give their employees no choice about working on Sunday.  If you tell them you won't work on Sunday, then you won't work.  

It is time we really looked at our position vis a vis the world.  Is the world to run us, or are we to rule the world.  Many Christians, especially Calvinists believe we are to remake the world.  In the past we as Christians freed slaves, took children out of factories and mines, and abolished sati.  The work is not finished.  Many women and children to this day are slaves even here in the United States, and we must fight these evils.We need to have confidence that we are in the world to change it.

We do that first by changing ourselves.Before Christians run the world, they most run themselves.  For example, bearing in mind the words of Jesus about divorce, why is it that there are more divorces among evangelical Christians than the population in general?  Why is it that the church's teaching on birth control so changed in the 20th century?  Why do more kids get pregnant in the Bible belt?  Why are so few people getting married?

Could it be because we no longer allow the Holy Spirit in  our lives?  The Bible tells us the fruits of the spirit are:
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.

Do we see these fruits in Christians any more?  What is true love according to the Bible?  Helping those in need.

Are we joyful in our life with Christ?  Do we find that joy in him and obeying him?
Do we truly have the peace or Shalom of God?  It comes through obedience.  Among those whom I have counselled with  besetting sins, many have told me they have no peace, because they know what they are doing is wrong. 
When someone cuts you off on the freeway, do you respond with a curse, or a blessing?
Are we truly kind to one another? (and kindness includes telling someone he is wrong)
Do we try and remove all evil from our lives?
Do we believe and follow God where ever he leads us? Even if it means not going with the world.
Are we gentle with other Christians in correcting and guiding them, and with those outside the church?  (remember gentle does NOT mean sugar coating the truth)
Do we have self control of our own lives?

According to the Lambeth Council of 1930, that very last one is critical.  Why is it that the millenials want to strip the Bible down to what Jesus said, instead of using the entire Bible.  Yeshua frequently quoted from the Old Testament.  Peter in his Second Epistle to Timothy tells us: "
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

If it was good for the early church, why isn't it good now.  I think it is that little word, self control.

(BTW, I stand convicted on several items in the fruit of the Spirit.  I will aim to change, will you?

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