Idle Worship

How should you spend your weekends? Answers to this question will determine whether you live under the authority of Scripture or not. Those who do not claim Scripture as their authority will say weekends should be spent doing whatever you want. Those under the authority of Scripture will say it weekends are about doing what God wants. Determining what God wants is derived from the Bible’s teaching regarding the Sabbath, work, worship, and rest–no simple task.  

Here’s Where They’re At

Here’s what you will likely hear when discussing weekends, Sabbath, Sunday, rest, and recreation with others.

“I don’t believe in taking time off. Life is too short.”

“We were made to be productive so we should always be working on something.”

“If I take time off my competition will get ahead and I will lose out. If I rest, I rust.”

“I am the parent of small children. The idea of rest is a dream.”

Here’s Where You’re At

Maybe you believe the Sabbath was instituted by God at creation when He rested on the seventh day, so Saturday is the Sabbath and is binding on all people for all time. You may believe God rested on the seventh day after creation and so we are supposed to rest one day in seven too. You may believe the Sabbath shifted from Saturday to Sunday because the Lord rose on the first day of the week and now Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. You may believe there is no difference in any day. Or maybe you believe Sabbath-keeping is not binding, seeing the principle as resting one day in seven.

Here’s Where Scripture’s At

God did His creative work for six days and then ceased working on the seventh, blessing and sanctifying it (Genesis 2:2-3). For Israel, God instituted the Sabbath for rest and worship, as a mark of their unique identity, and as a sign of the covenant with them (Exodus 20:11; 31:12-17). Jesus fulfilled the covenantal law with its Sabbath demands (Luke 4:16-30; Matthew 5:17-18) meaning Christians are not under law but under grace, under the new covenant not the old (Romans 6:14; 10:4). The Lord’s Day is the new focal point of worship chosen to commemorate and celebrate the work and Lordship of Christ (Revelation 1:10). Those in Christ enjoy rest now and experience a foretaste of what they will enjoy in heaven (Hebrews 4:3-4) and Christian worship is a celebration of this.

Where to Go from Here

Make rest an activity. The commands to Israel about the Sabbath, while not binding, do communicate God’s concern that His people rest.

Work is important, but the Bible has a six-day workweek in mind. You need regular periods of rest, which can be on any day, or extended part of a day, including but not limited to Sunday. If you work five days per week what you do with days off matters. Leisure is to be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The fact that Christ rose on the first day of week and is Lord of all makes the Lord’s Day particularly appropriate as the day of worship by the church. Worship, and more than just a one-hour church service, needs to be the priority and focus for you as a believer on Sunday. Sunday worship needs to be a celebration of the salvation rest you enjoy through Christ’s resurrection and mutual exhortation to enter into and live out that rest. In that spiritual and theological sense, Sunday is a day of rest and worship.

Do not judge others because they hold one day in higher esteem than others and don’t fall into the trap of legalism thinking that man-made rules must be kept to please God.