The Sabbath By A Different Name Is Still the Sabbath

          How would you have advised Eric Liddell in 1924? Would you have told him to run the race and win the gold medal? Would you have advised him to keep God’s law for the Lord’s Day? Do we serve ourselves, or do we serve God? In these days it is critical for believers to follow God’s laws, not in a legalistic sense, adhering to ridiculous tradition, but in a way that honors God’s desire to bless our lives.

            I had a Christian instructor recently who decided that it was desirable, laudable, and praiseworthy to purposely enroll one of his children into an elite sports team that practiced and played on Sundays. Throughout the course we heard over and again how he persevered through the slings and arrows of criticism to bring glory to God by violating His commandment to keep the Sabbath holy.

            His child had been invited (or had they sent her name in for consideration for this elite team?) to be on the team because of a high level of skill in a particular position. The only way Dad would agree to the child’s participation was if the coach allowed Dad to lead the team in prayer before each practice, and each game. The coach agreed, and many parents and children on the team heard the gospel who ostensibly would not have heard it any other way. And, as is always the case in these sorts of stories, at least two people came to Christ as a result of these prayer and teaching times. The message given to the class was that we should consider breaking God’s clear law in order to win souls for Christ.

            Really? Really?

            I would be surprised if this was an isolated case. Christian parents are under assault from a culture that sees Sundays as a day for sports, yard work, laundry, and generally catching up on things undone during the week (including work). Many if not most child sports teams meet to play on Sundays. But the word of God is clear. The Sabbath, and now the Lord’s Day is set aside by God as a day of rest. Activities are to be God-honoring and God-focused. Did God honor Esau after he traded his birthright for a pottage of red stew (Genesis 25:29-34)?

            Contrast this instructor’s choice with Eric Liddell’s choice to keep God’s law on the Sunday that he could have chosen to run and (in all probability) win the 100-meter gold medal in the 1924 Olympic Games. If the chief end of man is to glorify God, and it is, then Liddell is a clear example of how we are to apply God’s law to our lives.

          God does not honor halfway Christians.

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