Easter Sunday and Christian Values in the Year 2018
Copyright © April 2, 2018 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
All Scripture Verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version.
Yesterday was Easter.
Before our church's normal 11 AM worship service our pastor asked some of the men of the church to please help him move some extra chairs from one of the storage closets into the main worship area and to put the chairs along the side and rear aisles of the church.
This was not unusual for our church, or for many churches throughout the USA. Our church is about 75% to 85% full on a normal Sunday and there are empty seats scattered throughout the worship area. However on Easter Sunday we usually have between 95% to 110% attendance which means that some late arrivals would have to stand unless extra chairs had already been positioned around the worship area for them to sit on.
After the morning worship service was over I casually overheard several people talking about where they were going to eat lunch. And that started me thinking about a topic I have had on my mind for several years. The topic was "What should a Christian do on a Sunday?" If you are interested in knowing my thoughts on this subject then please continue reading.
Most Christians observe Sunday, the first day of the week, as a day of rest and worship. In other words, most Christians observe Sunday as a Sabbath day (instead of Saturday). Some of the reasons for this are as follows:
Exodus 20:8-11 - "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
The above scripture verses from the Holy Bible provide some of the reasons why most Christians observe Sunday as their Sabbath day. It was the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and it was the day He showed Himself alive to many of His followers. Over the next few years the newly formed Christian churches gradually began to observe the first day of the week as the day they would meet together and worship God. That practice has continued into the twenty-first century.
Matthew 28:1 - After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
Mark 16:9 - When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,
John 20:18-20 - Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Acts 20:7 - On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people ...
1 Corinthians 16:2 - On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Revelation 1:10 - On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit,
Romans 14:5-6 - One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.
Hebrews 10:25 - Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
If we accept Sunday as being the Sabbath day for Christians, then the next question is: "What should Christians do and not do on Sunday?"
The answer to this question should be based on the Holy Bible.
Matthew 12:1-13 - At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."
The above scriptures specifically mention that it is okay to prepare food to eat on the Sabbath, and that is okay to care for the needs of our livestock (or pets), and that is okay to meet the needs of sick people on the Sabbath.
He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread -- which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
Luke 13:10-17 - On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."
The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"
When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
Luke 14:1-4 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.
The next question is this: "Who should be allowed the freedom to rest and to worship on a Sunday?"
Deuteronomy 5:13-14 - Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.
The above verse says that a believer, and the believer's children, servants, and livestock should all be allowed to rest on the Sabbath. It also says that the "alien" or foreigners who are living among us should be allowed to rest.
The next question is: "What is rest and what is work?"
Nehemiah 13:15-17 - In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. Men from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, "What is this wicked thing you are doing -- desecrating the Sabbath day?
The above scripture mentions that treading grapes in a winepress, and putting loads on donkeys, and selling food and merchandise, were all being done on the Sabbath day but all these activities were desecrating the Sabbath day.
When I was young in the 1960s the only places that were open for business on a Sunday were restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters, pharmacies, and hospitals. One Sunday on the way home from church my mother stopped at a pharmacy (drug store) and asked me to go inside and buy her a pair of kitchen gloves so she could do the dishes after we ate lunch on Sunday (her previous pair of kitchen gloves had split open the night before while she was washing dishes by hand -- this was before the invention of automatic dish washers). I went into the drug store, picked up the kitchen gloves, and carried them to the checkout register to pay for them. But the clerk told me he couldn't sell me those gloves on Sunday because of the "blue law" which prohibited the sale of anything "work" related on a Sunday. When I returned to the car I told my mother what had happened and she said she had never thought of kitchen gloves that way because in her mind washing dishes on Sunday was the same thing as cooking meals on a Sunday. It was all part of the normal process of feeding her family.
Today in the year 2018 almost all stores are open on Sunday. Some stores are open 24 hours per day seven days per week. But many stores delay opening on Sunday until 12 noon. (I do not know if this is Church related or if is because people sleep late on Sunday.) Grocery stores, department stores, flea markets, clothing stores, and almost every other type of store is now open on Sundays. I am amazed at how things have changed since the 1960s when God was expelled from our public school systems.
However, even in the year 2018 there are exceptions.
For example, automobile repair shops are normally closed on Sundays (and some are also closed on Saturdays) because the people who do the repair work need a day off, and it is difficult to find a part-time person with these necessary repair experience who does not already have a full-time job during the week.
Chick-fil-A restaurants are also closed on Sundays. They always have been. It is interesting to note that Chick-fil-A restaurants have the highest average sales per store per year when compared to the 50 largest fast food restaurant chains in the USA. The average Chick-fil-A restaurant has approximately 20% more revenue per store per year when compared to McDonalds (its closest competitor in terms of sales per store per year). Chick-fil-A has approximately 6 times (600%) more revenue per store per year than the average Subway restaurant. Business analysts propose a lot of different reasons why Chick-fil-A is so extremely successful even though it is only open 6 days per week instead of 7 days like everyone else. Business analysts do not mention that God may approve of Chick-fil-A's six-day business model and God intentionally blesses Chick-fil-A restaurants for doing what He asks us to do in the Holy Bible.
Chick-fil-A's six-day business plan is supported in the Holy Bible in the following scripture verses:
Exodus 16:13,19-31 - Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat." ... Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
In summary, on the Sabbath day it is okay to prepare and eat food, and it is okay to care for the needs of our livestock (or pets), and it is okay to meet the needs of sick people. The Sabbath day is to be a day of worship and a day of rest. Christians, their family members, their servants (or employees), and the foreigners who live among us should be allowed to rest on the Sabbath day.
Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much -- two omers for each person -- and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' "
So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any."
Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out." So the people rested on the seventh day.
The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
Christians are not responsible for the activities of people who are not Christians. Non-Christians are accountable to God and God will evaluate the behavior of non-Christians when they stand before God's throne.
The next question is: "What standard should Christians use to evaluate their beliefs and their behavior?
In the year 2018 most stores can be legally open 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
- If the government has defined an activity to be a legal activity, then can a Christian engage in that activity with a clear conscious? If the government legalizes and encourages abortion and homosexuality then should Christians engage in these activities because the government has declared them to be legal?
- If the Holy Bible says that an activity is wrong, then should a Christian avoid that activity? Since the fourth commandment says, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" then should Christians obey this commandment?
- Is it okay for Christians to pick the scriptures in the Holy Bible they want to follow, and to ignore the scriptures they do not wish to obey?
- Is it okay for Christians to do something because a lot of other Christians are doing it and their pastor says it is okay?
Even though stores are open on Sundays, should a Christian do all of his or her shopping during six-days and not do any shopping on Sunday?
Should a Christian eat at a restaurant on Sunday?
Sundays are the busiest day of the week for most restaurants.
Many Christians eat at a restaurant on a Sunday because they believe they "deserve a day of rest."
But if a Christian eats at a restaurant on Sunday then he is requiring the restaurant's servants (employees) to work on Sunday in order to serve him.
Does the Holy Bible say that only Christians deserve a day of rest?
Or does the Holy Bible say that servants and foreigners who live among us also deserve a day of rest?
In the 1960s most Christians agreed on the answers to the above questions.
However, in the year 2018 many Christians disagree on the answers to the above questions.
I wonder what that reveals about Christian ethics in the year 2018?
It is easy for Christians to justify what they do by saying that everyone else is doing it and therefore it won't make any difference if they do it or don't do it.
However, each one of us is accountable to God for what we do and for what we don't do. We will not be judged based on what other people do or don't do.
Do you believe Chick-fil-A's six-day business strategy is so remarkably successful because of their management decisions, or do you believe that God is blessing Chick-fil-A restaurants for being obedient to His fourth commandment and keeping the Sabbath day holy? (Please remember that Chick-fil-A restaurants are more profitable on a per store basis than ALL of the other 49 most profitable fast-food chain restaurants in the USA even though those other restaurants are open seven-days per week.)
Do you believe that God is pleased with a Christian who does all of his or her shopping and "eating out" on six-days and who does not shop or go to a restaurant on a Sunday?
Do you believe that God will bless and prosper a Christian who keeps the Sabbath day holy, when compared to a Christian who does not keep the Sabbath day holy as defined by God?
However, sometimes unusual situations happen on a Sunday. Jesus gave an example of an unusual situation when He said: "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?"
Sometimes an unusual event may require us to do something on a Sunday we would not normally do. When my father died several years ago I drove eleven hours on Friday so I could attend his funeral services on Saturday. The services were over at about 6 PM on Saturday evening. I ate supper at a restaurant, filled my gas tank, and spent the night in a motel. On Sunday I drove eleven hours home so I could be at work on Monday morning. On Sunday I filled my gas tank up twice during that drive home, and I ate at a fast-food restaurant twice. This is not something I normally do and I was not pleased with myself for doing it. But it was the most practical way to get home safely and to be at work on Monday morning and be able to do a good day's work without being fatigued and exhausted.
Each Christian will need to make his or her own decision on what he will do or what he will not do on the Lord's Day.
The reason is because one day each one of us will stand alone before God's throne to receive our rewards for the deeds we have done in the flesh.
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