The other day, my daughter asked me, “Daddy, why is the post office closed on Sunday?”
“It is a leftover practice from a time in this country in which most, if not all, businesses were closed on Sunday,” I said.
“But why?” she further inquired.
“Well, America was largely influenced by Christians, most of whom recognized Sunday as a special day set aside for rest, known as a Sabbath,” I said.
This conversation forced me to look around and realize that today, most Christians treat Sundays like any other day. Previous generations of Baptists would shudder to see the way we live, shop and work on Sundays.
While some blue laws remain on the books in Oklahoma, such as for car dealerships and bars, the rest of our culture has pretty much given up on the idea of Sunday as a day dedicated for worship, let alone rest.
Meanwhile, in Europe, a movement is afoot to reclaim Sundays. A group called the “European Sunday Alliance,” which is not exclusively Christian-based, is pushing for laws to protect Sundays. The Alliance stated, “in June, 2012 that Sunday ‘shall not be sacrificed for economic interests. It needs to be protected as the day of rest and of social gathering’”. Spain, in particular, is a hot spot of debate as to whether Sunday now should be part of the work week.
What, if anything, does our public attitude indicate about Sunday in America? Is Sunday just another day, or should it be treated differently?
Biblical commentators point out that Christians are no longer under the law, and we are not required to keep the Sabbath. While no one wants the shackles of legalism, what have Christians given up by treating Sunday like any other day? Let’s look at some benefits of treating Sunday as special.
~A day of rest
In the Bible, the Sabbath was given as a gift to man (Gen. 2:2-3). U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an observant Jew, even recently wrote a book on the topic (obviously, he refers to Saturday, not Sundays like we understand it), called The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath. In our hustle-and-bustle world, a dedicated day of rest would be a huge blessing.
~Dedicated worship time
“Super Bowl Sunday” is not the only time of year the world competes for a slice of Sunday. Closer to home, little league tournaments, for example, have many Christian families away from church on Sundays. In times past, secular groups understood Sunday was off limits, that it is a day for worship. Each week, the ringing church bells and quieting of commerce were a testimony to our desire to turn aside for dedicated worship of God. It is not too late to realign our habits in this way.
The Baptist Messenger recently published an in-depth series exploring family breakdown. One of the leading indicators of family health was the amount of time a family spends at the dinner table together. In America, through our fast-food formulas and disconnected culture, we have done away with the blessings of shared meal times and Sunday as “family day,” all for the sake of a little more efficiency and alleged productivity.
While no one is suggesting a return to legalism or new laws for Oklahoma, it is time for a call for each Christian to examine our habits and attitudes on Sundays. Are we missing any of God’s blessings by the way we now treat the day?
In Christ, we have freedom, but we must be deliberate in our choice. As Paul stated, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord.” (Romans 14:5-6a).
Taking back Sundays for you could mean abstaining from social media on that day. It could mean not firing up the lawn mower. It could mean skipping that trip to the mall or meal out.
Our decisions, week by week, could have more of an impact on our families and society than we ever could realize.