Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., spoke to his congregation about the fourth of the Ten Commandments on Sunday, sharing with them seven reasons why Sabbath is important, and also seven ways some Christians often kill it.
Some of us worship our work, while others love being lazy, Pastor Driscoll said as he began his sermon, titled "Remember the Sabbath," the fourth in the series, "Ten Commandments: Set Free To Live Free."
Keeping the Sabbath keeps us from those twin idols, he said.
He read out Exodus 20:8-11, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
The Sabbath, or ceasing to work, was essential and central to the people of the Old Testament, but we can easily overlook that, Driscoll said.
He dealt with two questions the Commandment raises. One, is Saturday or Sunday the Sabbath? It was Saturday, as the Bible says the 7th day, he said. But is it okay to celebrate the Sabbath on a Sunday?
"Everything changed when Jesus came, not just with the Sabbath," the pastor stressed. Jesus observed Sabbath on Saturday, he pointed out. But He died, and then rose on Sunday. The early church started meeting not on Saturday, but on Sunday. Acts 20:7, "On the first day of the week, when we were together..." For Jews, Sunday is the first day.
Two, is the Sabbath binding on Christians? "It is not binding on us as it was [for] those who lived in the Old Testament," Driscoll said. He quoted Romans 14:5-6, "One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord."
It's more important that we get a day than argue over which day it is, the pastor suggested. While the Sabbath is not binding on us, "but it is good wisdom."
"I think with the law being fulfilled in Christ and nine of the Ten Commandments still binding upon us today, I believe this is the one that shifts from the category of law to the category of wisdom," Driscoll added. You don't have to get a day off, but if you don't, you will hurt yourself.
The Mars Hill pastor then moved onto seven reasons why we Sabbath.
1. We stop our work to remember Jesus' work. Christians are saved by Jesus' works, and we trust in His finished work, Pastor Driscoll said. "So on Sabbath day, we are remembering that my relationship with God did not begin with what I've done, it is not sustained by what I do, and it is not guaranteed to the end by my effort or work. I'm saved from beginning to end by Jesus' work."
2. We connect with Jesus and people. "The Sabbath forces us to spend time with the Lord and His people… by Bible reading, prayer, silence and solitude..."
3. We prepare for the eternal rest. In Hebrews 4:8-10, heaven is likened to an eternal Sabbath, Driscoll told the congregation. It doesn't mean there won't be work, but the work won't be curse so it will be easier, he said. "And if you can't take a nap, if you can't take a day off, heaven's going to drive you nuts."
4. We worship by mirroring the rhythm of God. God worked for six days and took the seventh day off, and so should we, he said.
5. We save others and ourselves from ourselves. If we don't take a break, we will break, and if we don't do Sabbath voluntarily, we will end up doing it involuntarily, Driscoll warned. If we don't take a day off, that affects other people in the family and workplace, too, he said. "God tends to be more gracious to some of us than we are to ourselves. And I've failed at this and I'm still working at this," he admitted.
6. We have fun and make memories. "Religious people are not fun... So, Jesus shows up and kids run around Him, want to be with Him. You know why? He's fun... God's a Father who likes His kids to have fun, so when Jesus shows up, the religious people get jealous because Jesus gets invited to parties and the religious people don't."
7. We learn the difference between time and energy management. "There are things that take a little bit of time, but a lot of energy. There are things that take a long time, but don't take a lot of energy," Driscoll said, adding that he learned this from Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California.
While most people may emphasize managing time, it's more important to manage your energy, Driscoll added. On Sabbath, we get time to reflect on the previous six days we worked and see if we wasted energy and time or really did something constructive.
Pastor Driscoll then shared about seven Sabbath killers.
1. A poor work ethic. If you don't do your work during the week, you're going to end up doing your work on your day off, he said.
2. Religious rules. Religious people like to make rules about everything and they ruin all the fun, Driscoll said. You don't need to organize everything, you can play with some things. "Sabbath is a gift that God gives, and if we impose too many rules on it, it no longer becomes a blessing, it becomes a burden."
3. Observing a Sabbath day without Sabbath heart. "You get a day off but you're still anxious, you're stressed, you can't sleep, you can't sit down, you can't enjoy... Your heart isn't able to Sabbath."
4. Pharaoh. "Now, they had a Pharaoh who literally ruled over them, and our pharaoh today tends to fit in our pocket," Driscoll said. "Always ever-present, dominating our whole life, interrupting at any time, we call it the phone." It's the biggest killer of the Sabbath today, he added.
5. Not planning your Sabbath - in pencil. "Some of you, your problem is you don't plan your Sabbath, so your day comes, and you've got no idea what you're going to do, and it's just a wreck." Some, on the other hand, plan it so much it's no longer fun; it feels like another kind of work, the pastor cautioned.
6. Resting from your work instead of resting for your work. "In Genesis, here's the pattern of God. It says there was evening and morning the first day, evening and morning the second day, evening and morning the third day. In that day, there's no electricity, agrarian society. When the sun goes down, you go home and your day is done. You eat dinner by candlelight, you hang out, read by the fire maybe, go to bed and you sleep... And God's pattern is that our day starts at sundown, which means the most important first part of your day is not in the morning." Your day starts in the evening with dinner and bed time, the pastor said.
7. Stimulants instead of Sabbath. "I don't have the energy to do the work that I have to do today, so I start the day by having a cup of coffee, or cups of coffee, and then more shots of espresso... And then you go to your day and you're like, 'Man, I'm feeling a little, you know, tired,' so I'm going to eat simple carbohydrates because it quickly turns into glucose and sugar in the body. And now I'm going to be stressed out, and I'm going to use technology to keep me on. Now the adrenaline's firing and now I need more sugar, and I'm going to eat more garbage..." And at night you cannot go to sleep. "Sabbath-violating wreck, and we call it 'America,'" Driscoll said.
Pastor Driscoll summed up his message with this statement: "God the Father is saying, 'Look at your whole life and see if it is put together in a way that is fruitful and joyful, that you get things done, and one of those things you get done is resting in Me and enjoying time with Me, the life that I've given you, and the people that I've surrounded you with.' Amen? ...That's the heart of the Sabbath."