FIRST-PERSON: Is Sunday still special?
OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- According to LifeWay Research, 77 percent of churchgoers say they take an intentional day of rest, with most doing so on Sunday. This idea of a Sabbath dates back to the Old Testament, even to the creation week itself.
Societies and nations impacted by Christianity almost always have viewed Sunday as special. In America, however, Sunday has increasingly been treated like any other day.
We see this through little league sporting events scheduled for Sunday and most businesses being open. So much of this is the case that when a business (like Chick-fil-A) stays closed on Sunday, the world remarks about the difference.
Previous generations of Baptists might be surprised to see the way today's Christians live, shop and work on Sundays. While some blue laws remain on the books, the rest of our culture has pretty much given up on the idea of Sunday as special, as a day dedicated for worship and rest.
Some years back, an international movement was born as a backlash to this societal creep into Sundays. The European Sunday Alliance, which is not specifically Christian or religious, has pushed for laws to protect Sundays. It proposed that Sunday "shall not be sacrificed for economic interests. It needs to be protected as the day of rest and of social gathering."
Thinking about America, what are some benefits of trying to reclaim Sunday as special?
A day of rest
In the Bible, the Sabbath was given as a gift to man (Genesis 2:2-3). Former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman even wrote a book on the topic called "The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath." In our hustle-and-bustle world, a dedicated day of rest would be a huge blessing.
Dedicated worship time
"Super Bowl Sunday" is not the only time of year the world competes for a slice of Sunday. Closer to home, little league tournaments, for example, have many Christian families away from church on Sundays. In times past, secular groups understood Sunday was off-limits, that it is a day for worship. Each week, the ringing church bells and quieting of commerce were a testimony to our desire to turn aside for dedicated worship of God. It is not too late to realign our habits in this way.
The Baptist Messenger here in Oklahoma once published an in-depth series exploring family breakdown. One of the leading indicators of family health was the amount of time a family spends at the dinner table together. In America, through our fast-food reliance and disconnected culture, many of us have done away with the blessings of shared meal times and Sunday as "family day," all for the sake of a little more efficiency and alleged productivity.
While no good Baptist wants or would dare suggest a return to legalism that demands strict Sabbath observance, this can be one of those issues where Christians reexamine our habits and attitudes on Sundays.
In Christ, we have freedom in how to live. As the apostle Paul stated, "One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord" (Romans 14:5-6).
Yet taking back Sundays could yield some important benefits for you, your family and society as a whole. Whether it's making church attendance a bigger priority or simply taking a break from social media, each of us can be better blessed when we treat Sunday as special again.