Important safety tip! Don’t ever do a favor for a friend of a friend.
I was doing that when I met with a young couple in my office one afternoon while I was a pastor. As we sat around a coffee table in some easy chairs they told me they were planning to get married but struggling with some issues.
Second important safety tip! If you’re engaged and struggling in your relationship, stop now. Don’t proceed. It won’t get better after marriage.
Apparently, he’d been cheating on her. They’d resolve the issue but then it would happen again.
Also, he had a wee smidgen of a problem with alcohol.
It was all I could do to keep from yelling to the young woman, “Run!”
Suddenly the young man interjected, “Well, there’s another issue also. I believe we’re commanded to attend church on the Sabbath which is Saturday. She goes on Sunday which is breaking the commandment.”
I replied, “Frankly, I don’t think God cares much when you go.”
He said, “But the commandment says it must be the Sabbath which is Saturday.”
I replied, “But we don’t live under the law anymore so I think God really isn’t all that concerned.”
At that point the conversation veered completely off the core problems and I knew we weren’t going back. So we ended the meeting a few minutes later and I never heard from them again.
I’ve wondered occasionally, did they get married? If so, for how long?
Sometimes I find getting caught up in the legalities of church can actually keep us from spiritual vitality.
Now I’m not advocating not attending. I’m just saying I think sometimes it’s more of a detriment to our spiritual lives than a help.
Jesus found the same thing when a group of religious fundamentalists criticized him and his disciples for not observing the Sabbath according to their rules.
Jesus defends their actions and then responds, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”*
In another version he adds, “The Sabbath was given for man not man for the Sabbath.”
In other words, he tells them, “I’m not really that interested in all the rules. Oh, and by the way, all of your rules were never mine anyway.”
Wow, I wonder what would happen to our spiritual vitality if we quit worrying about a bunch of man-made rules and instead simply focused on the one who loves us?
What would happen if instead of racing to get one more thing checked off for the week we once in a while just slowed down? Spent some time casually talking with God, listening to some uplifting Christian music and reading an encouraging Christian book?
Hmm, sounds pretty appealing doesn’t it? Actually sounds a lot like what I do.
And in those times I find God and his peace. I think that really is keeping the Sabbath. What about you?
Ironically, going to church can sometimes interfere with our relationship with God.
What are your thoughts?
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*Matthew 12: 8 (NIV)