30 September 2008


Last weekend I attended my first ever church service on a Saturday morning. My friend is a Seventh Day Baptist (bet you didn't even know that denomination existed) and had been telling me about her church's beliefs for a while. I finally had the opportunity to check it out for myself. Really, the only big difference between this church and mine was its emphasis on the Sabbath. Instead of observing it on Sunday, the day Constantine designated it, the practitioners of this faith believe that it should be observed on Saturday, the original Jewish designation.

I don't believe it matters whether the Sabbath falls on Saturday or Sunday, but I think that these Seventh Day Baptists are on to something... Sort of. They were right in acknowledging the Sabbath, but they emphasized the wrong aspect of it. Instead of focusing on the day of Sabbath, maybe they should be focusing on the observance of the Sabbath in general.

Not just them, but Christians everywhere.

I was reading through the book of Exodus this morning and came across the story of God sending manna for the Israelites to eat during their wilderness wandering. The interesting twist in the story (because bread from heaven isn't interesting enough) is that God commands the Hebrew people to collect manna for the Sabbath in advance. No manna came on the Sabbath, and those who did not save food for the next day went hungry.Reading this, I couldn't help but to wonder what the significance of picking up bread from the ground on the Sabbath was. Is bending over to pick up food so hard? Could it really be classified as "work?" But if God allowed this seemingly simple task, what other little tasks would He have to allow? Pretty soon the Israelites would be feeding their cows, sweeping up the dirt on the floor... The list of little tasks would pile up quickly.Isn't this the story of our lives? We're too busy to rest and spend time with God. Too busy to listen to ourselves and talk to our Abba. Even when we're not "busy" and plan on resting, we decide to tackle the little tasks that soon turn into a whole day of work.

God is serious about the Sabbath.

These past few weeks I have been neglecting rest. I allow myself to get caught up in the business of life that I lost contact with both God and myself. I bypassed the time I would normally spend reflecting and writing in my journal. I boycotted my time with God and justified it by saying that I had already spent all daily dose from chapel and Bible classes. I've finally caught on to what this was doing to me. I really haven't felt like I've known God or even myself, for that matter.

My mind has continually jumped to this passage from Isaiah:
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat; Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare" (55:1-2).

God is serious about the Sabbath.

So often spending time with God seems like even more work. It is something that will take effort, but, as this passage says, this labor satisfies in the end.
All throughout Scripture Yahweh commands His people to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. It's even one of the ten commandments.

God is serious about the Sabbath.

Because God is serious about spending time with you.

13 September 2008

Being Theologically "Sound"

In a previous post I mentioned that I took Sociology 101 at the OSU Delaware campus this summer. I enjoyed the learning environment and certainly liked being the minority racially and religiously. I even liked the subject of the course, but there was something about it that really bothered me. We addressed many significant social issues in class, such as poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, and social stratification. We analyzed them and approached them from as many different perspectives as we could think of. The thing was, we spent so much time on the problems that we never examined possible solutions. We were so concerned with the research of the issues that we never even considered that we might be able to do something about them.

Right now I'm taking a theology class, and I've immediately noticed the same pattern. So often I think that this same attitude carries over to theology. In fact, many times the first image that pops into my mind when I think about the subject is a whole bunch of people sitting around an oval table discussing insignificant details while other people right out their large windows are peering in at them, desperate for their help.

Of course, theology is essential to our Christian faith. Without a working belief system our faith would just fall apart. Still, theology can be a dangerous diversion from our real mission. In class, my prof mentioned angelologers. That's right- people who have devoted their entire lives to the sole purpose of studying angels. Angels.I don't think that even Jesus Himself would find that an imperative subject. Angels don't save people from their sins. They don't change people either. I think you can devote yourself to something (Someone) so much higher than that.

What exactly is theology good for? Sitting in class, I can't help but to perpetually wonder this. Here's my conclusion: theology's purpose is to prompt us to action. Theology is something that equips us in our ministry. Without implementation, it is merely what James calls "faith without works."

I think this concept is best exemplified by the early apostles. Acts 4:32 says that they were all "one in heart and mind." This isn't to say that they agreed theologically. I'm sure they had frequent theological discussions and debates. But, instead of spending ALL their time discussing the personhood of Jesus or eschatological subjects they united and acted within the community. They went out and affected people's lives with their already implaced theology.

Only when theology is acted upon can it transmit a vision of reality.