Mark 2:27 – The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
God is better to most people than they are to themselves. According to reports, people are working more hours and sleeping less hours than ever before. Many people rarely take a day off or really get a vacation break. The opening pages of the Bible say that God worked and then took a day off as an example for us to follow. In Heaven, we are told that we will have work to do and rest to enjoy. So, to be healthy we need to work hard and rest well. Most of us work hard and rest far too little. God created the Sabbath to give us a break from work before we break ourselves by working too much.
The problem with the concept of Sabbath rest is that it has been hijacked by religious legalists. Jesus says in Matthew 23:4, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” Jesus seemed to intentionally pick a fight with religious folks about the Sabbath by healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1–14, John 9:1–17), teaching on the Sabbath (Mark 6:1–2), promoting evangelism on the Sabbath (John 7:21–24), and allowing disciples to pluck & eat grain on the Sabbath (Luke 6:1-2). None of these violated God’s laws. Each of these violated legalistic man-made religious rules.
Here are the 9 problems with religious legalism:
- We turn a blessing into a burden.
- We turn a “get to” into a “have to”.
- We confuse principles and methods, judging everyone who does not do it our way as not doing it God’s way.
- We confuse house rules and God’s laws, attaching a Bible verse to things that have no correlation to borrow God’s authority abusively.
- We create an environment that repels unbelievers as no lost person is excited about spending forever with critical, judgmental, cheerless, punitive religious people.
- We create a judgmental environment of social shaming and nitpicking.
- We create an environment that encourages religion or rebellion as the good people judge the bad people and the bad people say to heck with all the rules and go wild.
- We turn God’s fence into our prison. God is a Father and His loving laws are like planks on a fence to give us a yard to play in safely. Religious people keep hammering up plank after plank of their rules until there is no yard left and we are stuck in a prison with no freedom or fun.
- We make Heaven’s Sabbath sound like a Quarantine Hell. Yes, our current quarantine is the secular version of religious legalism. Lots of rules, and rules about the rules, arguing about the rules, defending the rules, enforcing the rules, judging and shaming those who challenge the rules, and making sure that no one has any fun or freedom in the name of caring about people.
Which of these nine things are you most prone to say and do?