Today I want to talk about how to keep the Sabbath well, and tomorrow I want to talk about keeping the Sabbath poorly.
How does one go about keeping the Sabbath well? The Westminster Confession again states in 21.8:
The Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe a holy rest all the day from their own worldly employments and recreations, but also taken up, the whole time, in the public and private worship of God, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
So one can easily see by reading this sentence that you can take the Sabbath very strictly, and many do! Many truly do go to the grocery on Saturday, buy all their food for Sunday, so as not to cause any person to labor on their behalf on the Sabbath. These folks also do not do recreation on Sunday, no sports, or anything like, but spend the whole day in rest, and public/private worship of God.
I also, take it very strictly, but I define strictness a bit different than these folks. In fact, I think Jesus would define strictness a bit different than these folks. You see, Jesus healed on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-14, John 9:1-17), taught on the Sabbath (Mark 6:1-2), and promoted evangelism on the Sabbath (John 7:21-24). Jesus lived in such a way to show that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) Jesus’ point in all this “doing” on the Sabbath was to show that the Sabbath is not to be enforced legalistically but that it exists for worshipful fun and rest. Therefore, “the Sabbath is not a law for Christians to observe, but a grace for us to enjoy.” (Mark Driscoll)
What does this actually look like, for my family? We do worship on the Sabbath, often. Most churches have two services now on Sundays, and I think we ought to be going to worship as often as we can, especially on Sundays. We do rest on the Sabbath, partly because I am tired from the morning church work, and partly because Sunday is the only day where I can take a long nap and not miss out on work I need to do. We do “recreate” on the Sabbath by playing sports, watching sports, and enjoying the company of family and friends through fun activities that make you sweat. This all is worship, and one does not need to remove “recreation” from one’s Sabbath in order to keep worship pure and undefiled.
This really all comes down to one thing: worship. The Sabbath is to be filled with worship. How do you define worship? Is it sitting in church all day on Sunday? No. Is it removing recreation from your Sunday? No. Worship is doing everything you can to enjoy God as much as you can. Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, should be about this alone.