The title of this article is designed to be provocative, and perhaps even a little confusing, despite the fact that it is completely biblical. The intention of this article is not to re-establish the current legitimacy of Sabbath-keeping, or to restart a debate that has been raging since the early church fathers, and even Augustine, had clashes about it. As a congregation we have been blessed to receive very clear biblical instruction on the matter and have subsequently, for the most part, come to embrace the observance of the Lord’s Day in corporate worship as part of the very fabric of what it means to be a Christian. An honest assessment and faithful interpretation of the biblical texts will do that!
Rather than sitting down with a long list of things that are permitted on Sundays and an even longer list of things that are not, it would be good to be reminded of the original intention behind the fourth commandment—and then the list should sort itself out. If you had to write a report detailing the purpose of observing the Lord’s Day, would you use words such as privilege, blessing, worship, victory and rest? You really should, for that has always been the intention of the day.
The risk in approaching the Lord’s Day with any other mindset—merely as a formality or as simply another rule that must be kept—is that we can miss out on the real and tangible benefits that accord with its proper observance.
Enter the bicycle and the title of this article. If a believer comes to church dragging his lower lip in a wheelbarrow, sulking because he is missing out on a bicycle ride, we would easily and correctly say that he is missing the whole point. We would justifiably say the same thing about someone who elected to push pedals instead of choosing to prioritise corporate worship with their local covenanted church family.
By now you get the feeling that you’re being set up, so here it is: How do you approach the Lord’s Day? If you’re not using words like privilege, blessing, worship, fellowship, ministry and rest, then you’re probably pushing a wheelbarrow of your own.
I recently read a tweetfrom a well-known and very popular pastor of the Young, Restless and Reformed ilk, who shouted out for the world to hear that he was disappointed that he had to preach that Sunday because it meant missing his son’s baseball tournament! The same pastor would characterise my comments on his statement as being legalistic, and my approach to the Lord’s Day as being full of unnecessary restrictions. He, and many other contemporary Christians and church leaders, would not really take issue if their fellow church members decided to spin the cranks in some arbitrary little race of no eternal significance rather than gathering with the church. That is sad, and a very tricky ploy of the devil.
The turning point in my life relating to my personal participation in sport on Sundays, came when I saw the promises afforded those that kept the Sabbath with the right attitude. Isaiah 58:13-14 says:
If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honourable, and shall honour Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
The crushing and convincing blow came with the sudden realisation that the temporary and fleeting pleasure and satisfaction that came from participation in these little races of no significant import paled in comparison to the blessings and rewards that God promises to those that delight in honouring the Lord’s Day.
Surely it would be far better to ride on the high hills of the earth with the Lord’s blessing than win the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France. That realisation, coupled with the fact that God has gifted us six other days to pound the pedals if we so wish, will give us a rich and rewarding approach to the Lord’s Day.
It is an amazing thought to think that we can be so greatly rewarded when we don’t seek to do our own pleasures or push our own agendas, but rather delight in keeping the fourth commandment—with a bicycle of promise and no wheelbarrows in sight.