The Best Day of the Week
On July 6, 1924, during the Summer Olympics in Paris, France, the “flying Scotsman” Eric Liddell was nowhere to be found on the track for the 100-meter sprint. Liddell’s best distance had traditionally been the 100-meter, and it was predicted that he would win the gold. However, months prior to the race, the olympic schedule was published and the first and second heats for the 100-meter were to be held on a Sunday. Liddell would not race. He was a Christian, and as such he believed that Sunday was the Lord’s Day—the Christian Sabbath—a day dedicated to the worship of God, rest, and duties of mercy and necessity.
More recently, in 2011, the Scottish rugby player Euan Murray missed an important match in the Rugby World Cup because it was on the Lord’s Day. When questioned about his decision, Murray replied, "I want to live my life believing and doing the things (God) wants and the Sabbath day is a full day. It's not a case of a couple of hours in church then playing rugby or going down the pub, it's the full day.”_
Many Christians might consider Liddell and Murray’s situations and conclude, “It’s just one Sunday, what’s the big deal?” In fact, many Christians do draw the conclusion that it’s just one Lord’s Day when it comes to their children’s sporting events, family camping trips, or community events. But what Liddell and Murray understood that many others do not is that doing anything other than what God calls His people to on the Lord’s Day turns the best day of the week into just another day of the week.
The Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 2:20-21), and gathering to worship with God’s people and resting in Jesus Christ one day out of seven is a small but rewarding foretaste of the blessing that is to come when the elect are gathered together from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation for the great wedding feast with the Lamb. Think about the world in all its fallenness, brokenness, suffering, pain, hurt, and destruction, and then consider what the church is in its midst—an outpost for the sojourners of this world to gather and find rest. As God’s people gather for worship, they experience something of the sweet eternal worship that awaits those who are in Christ Jesus. Faithful local churches aren’t perfect, but they are God’s designated means by which we grow, flourish, and experience true peace and joy with His people on His day. So when Christians make the conscious decision to set aside their earthly labors and entertainments for a day each week, and willingly endure whatever consequences may comes a s a result, they reveal their abiding hope in a God who protects and provides for His children, and fulfills all that He promises.
Liddell and Murray were willing to forego a moment of greatness in this life because they believed with the Psalmist, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10). Gold medals and world cups don’t come close to comparing with joining together with God’s people, united in heart and mind, to sing praises and pray to God, to hear the reading and preaching of His Word, and to partake of the ordinances. For those who have been set free from the enslaving power of the world, the flesh, and the devil, there is nothing more valuable in this earthly life than a connection with a local church. There is nothing more important to do with time than to be worshipping with the local church. There is nothing whatsoever that anyone can tend to in this world that would rise to a significance greater than living, serving, and worshipping as a member of the body of a local church on the greatest day of the week. Christians should have no higher priority on the Lord’s Day than to join together with the heavenly chorus and God’s people throughout the world to proclaim and hear the good news of the death defeating victory of Christ through his perfect, law fulfilling life, sinners death, and glorious resurrection.
Lord’s Day worship isn’t a burden to endure, but a joyful offering from God to receive. Christians don’t put aside their earthly cares each week to earn God’s favor, but to enjoy worshipping the God whose favor has already been granted in Jesus Christ. It is a true delight to forego even the best worldly endeavors for the day, without feeling any sense of guilt for being lazy or uncaring, to revel in the heavenly things of God which are the truest and greatest treasure for any Christian (Matthew 6:19-21).
Each and every Lord's Day, I feel free from time constraints and the stress of an agenda and the rush of running errands and being in 10 places all at one time. It’s a joy. Most of all, I enjoy that I have unhindered time with God and with my family—my wife and children and my brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s a day to remind us that what matters most is not that we work and labor and toil to earn something, but rather that we rest in the finished work of Christ that has earned everything we need. It’s the best day of the week.
Suggestions to make the most of your Lord’s Day:
1. Prepare your heart by reading and meditating on the upcoming sermon text on Saturday evening. With the text fresh in your mind, when the preaching begins, you can see if you came to the same conclusions and drew the same applications. You will be more engaged if you are prepared.
2. Do as much as you can on Saturday to prepare for the Lord’s Day. Clothes ironed, chores done, house cleaned, and lunch prepped. There’s nothing quite like being able to get the family ready for worship without having to run around the house to find hair clips, shoes, and Bibles. We’ve all been there. Save yourself the stress and remember, the goal is resting in Christ.
3. When you’re on vacation or traveling through the weekend, make sure you plan ahead and find a church in the area you will be staying. One of the wonderful blessings of being a Christian is being able to walk into another local church knowing you are worshipping with brothers and sisters, even if you’ve never met them before.
4. Invite another family over for lunch and afternoon fellowship. Try to connect with people you don’t know very well and develop a new friendship. Have a few questions in mind to ask as you learn about one another and have opportunity to encourage each other in the Lord.
5. If your church has an evening service, go. For the same reasons we gather in the morning, we should be motivate to gather in the evening as well. In fact, many Christians find that evening worship gatherings offer greater opportunities for mutual encouragement and fellowship.
Eric Liddell: Athlete and Missionary Sermon by David Campbell
The Lord’s Day by Joseph Pipa