All will worship.
Whether we stay at home, go to the stadium, visit the beach, hit the links, go the sanctuary, or attend the synagogue, all of us are going to worship today. It is unavoidable. It matters not whether we are Atheist, Agnostic, Anglican, Buddhist, or Baptist, all will actively serve that being we hold to be most dear. Today, someone is going to be our chief focus. Today, someone is going to reign supreme. Therefore, the question at hand is not if we will worship, but who will be the subject of our worship today?
From a quick perspective, there are only two options. First, we can righteously spend our entire day worshiping God. This is to be true each and every day, regardless of where we are in the week. Everything we do is to bring honor and glory to God. From God’s Moral Law we learn that six days each week we are to righteously worship him through our hard work. One day each week we are to righteously worship him through our holidaying, resting, celebrating, ministering, worshiping, and fellowshiping. Therefore, one option is to righteously spend our entire day — whatever day it is — worshiping God.
The second option is this: we can unrighteously spend part or all of the day worshiping ourselves.
All will worship wrongly.
Thinking about it further, there appears to be only one real option, for there is not one righteous, not even one. Whether it be Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, no one will spend the entire day worshiping God properly. During the workweek, there will not be found one who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. There will not be found one who labors and loves after the model of Christ. None will worship whether eating, drinking, or whatever else they are doing. Throughout these workdays, none will be found praying without ceasing and none will love their neighbor as themselves. Yes, it appears that on each and every workday, men will not worship properly. Then, on the “Holy Day,” the Seventh-day Adventist and Messianic Jew will find themselves sinful. The Old Covenant Jew could not keep the Ceremonial Law and Sabbath, and neither can they. In addition, the Christian Sabbath practitioner will find himself unable to keep either their man-made and traditional Confession or their God’s inspired and transcultural Law. Yes, whether one hits the summit, the soccer field, the shore, the synagogue, or the sanctuary all will be found worshiping falsely on their workdays and on their worship days. Whether it be Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, all will be found sinning and falling short of God’s standard, for all are sinful self-worshipers.
Therefore, what ought we to do? Here is the big idea: Let us repent, understand the Gospel, and spend Sunday better enjoying and glorifying the God who saved us from all our work and worship transgressions.
Let us review God’s Law and repent.
Isn’t it sad how we worship ourselves?
It is because we are incurably fascinated with glorifying ourselves that we major on money. Financial accumulation makes us feel successful, safe, and powerful. We like being the sovereign, courted by many, not having to trust in anyone. Money also allows us to buy that which our hedonistic flesh craves.
We then collect, hoard, wear, and display our possessions because they proclaim our style, class, or social caste.
Today we will pursue health and beauty because we want to look like gods in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. Too often, the gym, spa, or beauty salon is our temple of self-worship.
We will then leave these temples and idolize relationships — spouses, children, significant others, and clubs. We will sacrifice and serve for feelings, credibility, or the pretended security we receive from these people. We are adept at using people and relationships as idols in the worship or ourselves.
Some will pursue sports because through them we get an endorphin rush or high. Others engage in athletics because it proves we have arrived; in the game we get mastery over another and receive the applause and adulation of men.
Many seek intellectual accomplishment because through academic accomplishment we decrease our personal folly and pain, and increase self-esteem, visible credentials, human praise, and job security.
Sadly, some of us will again sell out and sacrifice for food, drink, drugs, and other substances. These items temporarily numb our pain, provide some measure of short-term comfort, or give us the immediate high we are chasing.
Then, because all these things fail, many of us will turn to religious practices in a religious house on the religious day. And because we are still focused on worshiping ourselves, we will engage in all sorts of liturgies and traditional rites to steer away trouble, court health, gain wealth, experience prosperity, and purchase our children’s covenantal faithfulness. You see, “Prosperity Theologians” are not the only ones engaging in worship in order to earn divine favor. From antiquity, men have used the name of God, the prayers of God, the Word of God, and the house of God to serve, worship, pleasure, promote, honor, and glorify themselves. We are no less guilty today.
Can’t we see the common denominator in all these pursuits, passions, idols, gods, or practices? All of us use such objects and activities to contribute to the worship of self. In our sinful condition, we are the supreme ones in our own eyes. We are the most important ones. We are the chief objects of our own affections. We exist to enjoy and glorify ourselves, and we will use whatever idols, gods, ceremonies, and practices necessary to make sure we are treated as we think we deserve.
We are all wicked workers and worshipers.
Let us review God’s Gospel and relax.
We cannot work to earn our salvation. Oh, how we need a Savior, and oh what a Savior we have! Jesus worked properly and gifted his righteousness to his children.
We cannot worship to earn our salvation. Jesus worshiped rightly and placed this on the account of his children as well.
Jesus then died on Calvary’s cross to fully pay for all our work and worship transgressions. Yes, we who are all broken workers and worshipers — prone to use money, possessions, health, beauty, relationships, sports, popularity, power, knowledge, idols, substances, and religion to pleasure and promote ourselves — can receive mercy and grace. Regardless of how we labor, regardless of how we keep the Lord’s Day, we can be reconciled to God through the sacrificial work and worship of the Son. This is the Gospel. Run to Christ and Sabbath, rest, rejoice, celebrate, and relax.
We are wicked worshipers and worshipers, completely forgiven and declared holy by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Relax!
Let us review God’s weekly Sabbath and rejoice.
God did not need to rest after creating the world. He was not tired or weary, but he did so to set an example that his image bearers might follow. It is assumed that God passed along information regarding his holiday to Adam; he must have done so in the same way he communicated truth about the proper way of offering sacrifices. Six days each week, Adam and his family were to worship God by working. One day each week, they were to worship by resting. God gave Adam and his friends this fun and fantastic gift — a whole day to cease from working, a whole day to relax and rest as the family of God.
Israel lost this opportunity when taken captive by Egypt. However, after their redemption, God reestablished this routine for them. And it was not just for them, it was for their servants, animals, and assimilated friends as well. Six days each week, men were to worship by working hard for the Master. One day each week, men were to worship by resting, fellowshipping, and worshiping. God gave his children a vacation or a holiday each and every week. What a fantastic gift!
As part of the Civil and Ceremonial Law, God tightened things up a bit — including the Sabbath. To his general Moral Will, God added many prescriptions, prohibitions, and penalties that had not previously existed. God made his Hebrew people hunger for a day when dietary specificities, bloody sacrifices, lengthy pilgrimages, ceremonial separation, and rigorous sabbathing would be no more. However, these tighter laws were not good enough for the Pharisees. To God’s Civil and Ceremonial Laws, and especially to his Sabbath Laws, the Pharisees added hundreds of their own. Consequently, the day of celebration became burdensome.
However, Jesus fixed it all. In his life he kept not man’s traditional Sabbath additions. They were of no importance to him. He found them not obligatory. Then, following his death as Head of the Church, Jesus removed the Civil and Ceremonial attachments. He even changed the holy day originally established with Moses.
So where are we today, and what will we do? Friends, it is my encouragement that we see Sunday as God’s weekly gift to us. Let us rejoice in it and use it well. It is a fantastic holiday in which we can honor the Creation Mandate, honor the Moral Law, honor our Savior and Friend, honor our Christian family, and in the process find rest and nourishment for our bodies, souls, and minds. It will also set us up for greater success as we work on the six days coming up. Friends, today in the New Covenant era, we are free to enjoy it with ease and little regulation — God is not concerned with his Civil Law, his Ceremonial Law, or man’s traditional laws. Therefore, do not over-legislate our Sabbath or anyone else’s. In addition, do not do poorly and neglect the Lord’s Day. It is his vacation gift to you. Hear his invitation to use it differently and spend it well. Who amongst us cannot use more rest, encouragement, knowledge, celebration, and fellowship? Who amongst us wishes not to spend more time enjoying and glorifying God through assembled worship? Yes my New Covenant friends, it is true that there is a greater Sabbath coming over the horizon. Yes, my New Covenant friends, it is true that for the Christian everyday is a holy day, everyday is a day when we can Sabbath in Christ who is our rest. But in addition to the everyday Sabbath and the eternal Sabbath, why would we not want to enjoy a weekly holiday. God does not need it, but we do. Friends, I exhort us to look at things differently. Be not foolish like the world. Today is a divine gift; it is a holiday established for us. Enjoy God and glorify him through our work tomorrow, but let us enjoy and glorify him today through worship and rest. This is another gift purchased for us by Jesus Christ — Lord of the Sabbath.