Maybe we haven’t gone far enough.
Some of today’s Scottish newspapers are running a story about our local school’s girls’ football team. Against all the odds, they beat off older teams from larger schools all over Scotland, to reach the final of a national tournament sponsored by Coca-Cola – only to discover it was scheduled to be held on a Sunday. To not a little disappointment, the decision was taken to pull out of the opportunity to win the national tournament because of the religious convictions of our community.
I’m not sure how many communities would be featured in the press for this reason. Sunday has, of course, become this generation’s sports day, and sports is the opium of this generation. It is the new religion, with its own heroes, its own songs, its own loyalties, and its own holy days.
I’m not sure what other evangelicals think of the decision of our local girls to pull out of the final: I suspect that on the whole issue of observing the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath, many evangelicals have capitulated to the world’s way of doing things, and would see nothing wrong with holding, or attending, sports events on the Lord’s Day.
If this week’s headlines demonstrate anything, they show that there is one God-given opportunity for us to nail our Christian convictions to the social mast – to honour the Lord publicly by honouring his day, and making it altogether different from every other day of the week, whatever the cost.
Are they being legalistic? Or are they being weaker brothers (sisters)? Or are they honoring the Lord?
Frankly, I’m heartened by the decision of the team. It reminds me of the “Flying Scotsman” himself, Eric Liddell (of Chariots of Fire fame), who made the same decision for the same reason.
This past year I preached on the Christian’s observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day (audio here – see the sermons on 11/11/07 & 11/18/07), where I publicly refused to become legalistic about making a list of rules on what is and is not permitted activity on Sundays, yet at the same time I pleaded with our congregation that whatever else they did on Sundays, they should honor the Lord’s Day by making it a priority to faithfully worship and rest on Sundays in accordance with the pattern established at creation – both for their own good and God’s glory.
I realize that this is another one of those “debatable issues” over which godly and sincere Christians disagree. Yet I think that there is something noteworthy about this team taking the costly opportunity to publicly align themselves with a more noble cause than that of a sports competition. And not just any cause greater than that of sports, but a the particular cause of God’s honor.
Honoring the Lord by honoring the Lord’s Day is a simple but too often flippantly-disregarded way to bring God glory. Our over-busy culture is probably baffled by such a “foolish” decision to withdraw from the games, especially for such a “silly” reason. Yet what is even more disappointing to me is that so many Christians feel the same way, and never attempt to honor the Lord in this way themselves – even when it wouldn’t cost them much more than getting an already longed-for break from the break-neck pace of their lives. It’s ironic to me that there is such resistance to, not legalistically, but gladly, ceasing one day a week from the normal pressures of life and spending it resting and worshipping the Lord with God’s people – both to God’s glory.
If that were our higher priority, then Sundays wouldn’t be so negotiable.