Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why do Pastors work on Sunday?

Q: If we are supposed to honor the Sabbath, why do Pastors work on Sunday?
A: The Sabbath is considered the day of rest [see note 1]. It takes it cue from the Creation account where God ‘worked’ for six days creating the world and rested on the seventh day.
Later in Israelite history, God included Sabbath-keeping as one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

While this is not the place to go into all the detail of the biblical teachings regarding the Sabbath, suffice to say it involved two main aspects: (1) physical rest, and (2) spiritual service. On its most basic level, the Sabbath was intended to provide rest for the weary human being. Certainly the cruel taskmasters in Egypt didn’t provide rest for the overworked Israelite slaves. By contrast, God mandated rest to ensure a human being wasn’t over-tasked.

Yet, the Sabbath was never just about physical rest. It also served, perhaps primarily, as a visible reminder to concentrate our hearts, bodies, and minds in love of God. When the Pharisees questioned why Jesus allowed his disciples to harvest food on the Sabbath he makes the astonishing claim that he is the “Lord of the Sabbath”. The Sabbath is all about him, he “owns” it. In other words, activities associated with Christ and his kingdom-mission are not only allowed on the Sabbath, they are exactly the type of activity for which the Sabbath was intended. By serving Jesus, Jesus disciples were automatically keeping the Sabbath.

The Lord’s Day is meant to be a day of activity, which is celebrated by fulfilling the commission the Lord has given us. Perhaps the worst way to keep the Sabbath is to take a Sunday afternoon nap (though that isn’t all bad—it actually sounds quite good). Idleness perhaps offers us physical rest, but it doesn’t unite us spiritually with our Lord. Historically, the Christian church used the Lord’s Day to care for the sick and poor, minister to prisoners, and comfort the afflicted.

Far from breaking the Sabbath, pastors (and all who volunteer in their local churches) are fully keeping it.

[Note 1] I recognize the historical Christians struggle regarding the applicability of Sabbath for the Church. I view the Christian Sabbath—called the Lord’s Day in Scripture—as being Sunday. While there are some who still maintain Saturday as the Sabbath, or worse yet attempt to do-away with the Sabbath altogether under the pretense of its inapplicability to the “church-age”, I firmly believe the Sabbath—which is now Sunday for Christians—is still normative and binding for believers.

Questions for Pastor Josh can be submitted via Email. "Faith Questions" is a feature in the monthly newsletter of Indian River Baptist Church. This blog republishes those Questions, along with others not selected for print publication.

1 comment:

  1. As I study the book of John and Paul's letters I realize the struggle the early church had with both the Jews angry at the people of the Way desecrating the Jews Sabbath ( Saturday) and the Early church establishing the "Lords Day" (Sunday) a day of listening to the word and of communing with believers of the Christ Jesus and not some fuzzy bunny story from a pastor who wants to entertain.

    I have a open invitation to minister on Sunday nights. As a Carpenter and a Lay Minister I find that Sundays are the day that I need to be with my wife. We worship, Fellowship with each other do work that's needed and sometimes nap. So am I not being loyal to God who gave me all I have? or am I sustaining the Biblical requirement of husband and family?

    I know the answer, Just weighing In on working on the Sabbath. If we die to self daily we give all our waking moments to God, Giving the sacrifice of self, alone can be worship, and certainly praise. So ministers are not working on Sunday, they are sacrificing to Adonai.

    Nice site, I enjoy reading it.
    Rick Weiss