My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute. Today, I wish to speak about the way we who are believers treat Sunday, as opposed to what the Bible teaches us about Sunday. In Genesis 1, we are told that God rested on the seventh day. We know that days, months, and years have an astronomical basis; weeks do not. When God established the Old Covenant Law, there was a Sabbath day. While it is now celebrated among the modern Jews from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, back then, the festival days were not counted among the days of the week, so relative to our calendar, the Sabbath floated through the week.
When Jesus came to earth and ministered to the people and taught his disciples, there was a continual clash between Him and the religious leaders over various aspects of the Law, including how to honor the Sabbath, to keep it holy. The Roman Empire, which controlled
time, had the worship of the sun god, Mithras, on Sunday. That’s where the word Sunday comes from. When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled
the Old Covenant and the Law. Now, God
knew that, and the few hundred people who came to believe on Jesus while he was
on earth knew that, but the Jewish religious leaders didn’t know it, and Jesus’
death wasn’t even a blip on the news to the Romans, just one more person put to
death on a disorderly edge of the Empire. Israel
When the Holy Spirit was sent on the 120 persons in the upper room in
that we read about in Acts chapter
2, the God’s New and better Covenant began.
By the power of the Holy Spirit the people came from that room and spoke
about Jesus in the street. The church
grew rapidly, and we are told that they met daily. They didn’t all meet together daily*. It tells us they met from house to
house. They may have met a little by the
side of the Jewish temple, but that went away after a while. Almost all of them were poor. Some foreigners who heard about Jesus and
believed dropped what they were doing and attached themselves to the
believers. Because they were poor, most
of the believers assuredly worked long and odd hours. They had no building, no ritual, but were
connected by having seen Jesus in their spirits, and from that, desiring to
live to honor Him. Because of Roman
Mithras worship, Sunday probably became a convenient time to meet, especially
outside of Jerusalem
where Jews and Jewish worship was a minority belief. Israel
The Jews were unhappy under Roman rule, and between attacks in 70 and 130 A.D., the people of
were dispersed, which would have made the Sabbath as a holy day of even less
effect on surrounding society. Jerusalem
After the legalization of Christianity in the 4th century, many pagan ways got forced into the now legal, no longer underground church, and Sunday became entrenched as the day of worship. The Reformation came, formal, ritualized worship changed, but the use of Sunday as the day of the services was not affected.
This is not the case everywhere. I know of a man who is a leader of a small group of believers in a Buddhist dominated country. The tradition in that land is that most of the people meet at sunup on Thursday mornings to give a ceremonial bowl of rice to the Buddhist monks. In that area, it is only reasonable for the small group of Christians to meet at that same time, as the social tradition of the area will make it easiest for everyone to meet then. This will be the case wherever a religion or dominant social organization has ruled that a certain regular time is an off time, whether for religious ritual, political indoctrination, or whatever.
Why is this important? Because, even though scripture doesn’t command a special off day, tradition can make it feel that way. A couple of years ago, I had a job where I worked all day Saturday and Sunday, and I mean all day as in 16 hours on Saturday followed by 10 on Sunday, what little I had to do the rest of the week was easily scheduled to my convenience. It was impossible to “plug in” to what we in this culture see as a traditional church, as almost all are set up to revolve around a Sunday morning meeting. In 1 Corinthians 11 verses 20 to 22, when Paul is warning persons in this city about their behavior about food during a shared meal among the believers, the underlying situation is that some believers got to the assembly at different times due to their work. Is it because most of the believers there were poor and some were slaves that this church was expected by Paul to be flexible to lives of the various persons among the saved, but today, because churches are big business, with real estate, well paid officials, and neighborhood marketing plans, that they don’t have to be flexible to real needs in their midst? Jesus told us that the poor we would always have with us, but never commanded buildings, salaries, or marketing plans.
Every day is the Lord’s Day. Church is where one gets spiritually fed, but that doesn’t have to be, and oftentimes isn’t, an intellectual thing, when the Holy Spirit is directing us. He has commanded us to build up each other in faith, and serve those around us. Almost all of what, in this society, looks like Christian ritual really doesn’t have a basis upon what Jesus taught the disciples, who taught the early believers.
*I mean, as in, all of the now thousands of believers in