Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sabbath - Is God Serious?

Jesus commands us to rest on Sabbath Day. However, many poor/working-class people have to work on Sundays to survive. The economy also won't function if absolutely no one is working on Sundays. So is Jesus' command to make disciples in every nation a reality, or more like a vision/illusion?


Daniel Kim said...

Do others have thoughts on this? I think this question can be answered from many different angles.

Daniel Kim said...

One way to answer this question might be to consider the fact that Jesus himself "worked" on Sabbath by doing good works and also by feeding himself and the disciples. He challenged the Pharisees about their legalistic view of the Sabbath by asking them what they would do if they were to find a sheep in distress on the Sabbath. (Matt 12) And he said that Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27)

So in other words, if someone is in distress, or if someone needs to work in order to survive, by all means, do so.

One must take pause, however, to consider whether it's a matter of survival or a matter of greed. I have seen many families (especially immigrant families, of which I'm a part) who were far from being under the poverty line yet found it so "dire" to work on Sundays and miss corporate worship. So if it's really the case that one must work to survive, then Jesus himself would help you out by working on the Sabbath. But if it's really the case that one wants to work to gain extra cash, then I would say that that's not really a good witness.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you said. Its not about any kind of work, but only doing what work is necessary for survival and maintaining good relationships with those close to you.

But what does Jesus mean by rest? We think about what the goal of the Sabbath is... then is it more important to achieve the goal, rather than put aside work?

Daniel Kim said...

Sure, I think it's more important to achieve the goal than to put aside work. But why not do both, if possible?

It is possible to work on Sunday and achieve the goal of glorifying God: In the case of full-time ministers, their work on Sundays actually serve to achieve the goal of honoring God.

But perhaps we need to be careful that we do not excuse our greed by spending our Sundays working for money - and then saying with our lips that I'm still achieving the goal of glorifying God because through this work, I am providing for my family, which glorifies God (or something like that). Do you think such reasoning holds?

Anonymous said...

Does that mean that students should not study on Sunday?

I can see helping out on Sunday for service glorifying God thought it is work, but how about other things like even grocery shopping.

In terms of working for money, one can say - Work overtime on weekdays, so you can have Sabbath on Sunday.

Daniel Kim said...

I think that's fine. Again, as I said above, I think we just have to be honest and ask ourselves whether a work that we're doing is for necessary stuf for carrying out our duties or for greed. I don't think we should be legalistic about this and say "no studying", "no grocery shopping", "no business" on Sundays. That would be like the Pharisees. But at the same time, we should be careful to not use our freedom to basically put church in the backburner and indulge our greed. Again, we need to pay attention to the heart... Sometimes, though, our consistent actions reveal our true hearts, so we do have to pay attention to our actions.

If this sounds confusing, it's because it is. But I think we inherently know our own propensity to divide our heart and actions and either get really legalistic or really libertarian. What would you say to someone who says, "I haven't gone to church for the last 6 months, because I am studying for the SAT. Hey, don't be so legalistic. I love God."?