The Pen

Sundays are for Sabbath Rest

[Editor’s Note: Some P&P Contributors hold to the 1689 Confession, some are Calvinistic dispensationalists that do not, and one rowdy contributor isn’t even a Calvinist – the horror. We may not all agree on the sabbatarian nature of the Lord’s Day, but we would all like you to enjoy this day of rest and worship in Jesus Christ]

Happy Lord’s Day!

We’d like you to take into strong consideration the thoughts of Mark Jones in a recent post at Reformation 21. Are organized sports acceptable on the Lord’s Day?

I became a Christian at University. Giving up soccer on Sundays was something that had to happen so that my love for and commitment to the Lord was not divided on his Day. That meant also giving up a $30,000 a year soccer scholarship. That may sound crazy to some, but, out of God’s abundant kindness and grace, I was able to complete three degrees and not have a single dollar of debt at the end. God graciously rewards even small (and imperfect) sacrifices.

After transferring to an affordable Canadian University, I did not play games on Sundays. There were times when I wanted to, but now that I look back, I don’t regret missing several games in order to go to worship the Lord at a solid ARP church. Many asked why I wasn’t playing and it was a good opportunity to tell them about the Lord.

Now that I’m older, and have four children, who all love sports, I am constantly faced with the issue of organized sports on Sundays. My daughter has to play on a boys team because boys play Saturdays in Vancouver whereas girls play on Sundays. We had to get special permission to allow her to play boys soccer. I also have three boys, all of whom love soccer. But they know that organized sports on Sundays are not an option.

Clearly, Mark Jones is a legalistic fuddy-duddy. A puritanical rube, he is. Of course, the Prince of Preachers would agree with him (both share a covenant theology). Spurgeon’s catechism said…

1. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

Seems harsh, for this Victorian-era preacher. A little too rigid, perhaps. Well, let’s let Jones continue…

Many Christians today are allowing their children to miss worship because of commitments to sports.

Well, that’s obvious. But is it sinful?

Giving up worship for sports is not an option for Christians. In fact, to miss worship because of sports is positively wicked. Your children will not likely be converted on the field or on the court or on the diamond. In God’s house, with God’s people, they are in the most important place for their never-dying souls. They are in the place that shapes their living for the week, week after week, year after year, decade after decade.

Ouch. Really. Ouch.

The most important thing Christians can do in this world is worship God in the corporate assembly of his people on the Lord’s Day. Think about that. We enter into the heavenly places when we worship. We commune with the triune God and his people. Through faith, we receive grace upon grace, and we offer praises to the living God. And would we rob our children of this inestimable blessing for a game?

Jones goes on to explain more, and we would encourage you to read the rest of the article. From a classic and covenantally sabbatarian perspective, he is spot on. This is the Lord’s Day. It is not your day. God gave you six entire days for such things. This day, however, belongs to Him as the Lord of your life. Jones finishes by saying…

There’s no question that I still struggle with this principle. My heart sometimes asks whether it would be a big deal to let my son play in a mid-day game while the rest of the family has a fellowship lunch…But, ultimately, living by faith, in obedience to God’s Word, enables us to do what is best for our children. My assistant coach (a pagan) said, after he found out we don’t play on Sundays:

“Oh, because that’s like God’s day, right?” Right?

Read the article here.