2 Corinthians 4:5-12
“All for our sake”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Many of you may have grown up with parents that regularly gave you a healthy dose Vitamin N throughout your lives; N as in “No”. You ask for something and your mother or father would, from your perspective, unreasonably tell you that they would not allow you to do or receive said thing. Now I say unreasonable because we were just kids and could not understand. It is only when we grow up that we come to realize the love of our parents through the copious no’s we have received.
Can I have a cookie from the cookie jar? No, you will ruin your appetite before supper. Well that is unreasonable, cookies taste good, so they must be good to eat and it appears that my parents are starving me by telling me I can’t eat these delicious treats. This is a perspective a kid might have, trying to rationalize the desire of their sweet tooth. Of course, adults would definitely understand why eating treats before supper is not ideal and why it is perfectly reasonable to tell their children no in this respect. This is but a simple example, and there are many more less humorous examples of Vitamin N: don’t smoke, don’t hang out with that crowd, no games until after you do all your homework and studied, don’t be away from home after a certain time, no
sleepovers with the opposite gender, no allowance until you do this or that, etc.
All of this is done because your parents truly care for you, the copious amounts of no to all the things you want to do. Growing up, my mother was such a person to me and I thank her for the strict parenting I received. Her goal was to raise a respectable adult. Compared to her parenting I have seen multiple grown kids that act like complete spoiled brats who whine and give temper tantrums and mentally manipulates whenever they don’t get what they want. Usually I notice that they were not raised with a healthy dose of Vitamin N. Many are adults now, but to me they still act like children, thin skinned, malicious, and ill prepared when they find out that they are not the center of the universe.
From a Christian perspective, we are all still children, incapable by our own desires to act in a spiritually mature fashion. We are in constant need of the Word and Holy Spirit to feed us soft foods and liquids for one we cannot feed ourselves and two we are not ready for solid food. This is imagery that Paul uses multiple times. Another way of putting this is, because we are sinners we cannot function by ourselves in a way befitting a holy life. We can’t help but sin, let alone work ourselves towards salvation. There is a reason why Jesus came to die on the cross to save us from our sins. Yet, through Christ, we are still children, and like all children, we need a guardian to guide us and teach us and provide for us sinners a healthy dose of Vitamin N. And that dosage comes in the form of the Law.
There are many reasons why we have the Law. To point out what is sinful, to point us to our sins and expose that we are sinners which is something to dread over, and to point us towards Christ who is the source of our Forgiveness. Now many people absolutely hate the first reason why we have the Law, to point out what is sinful, but then again what toddler likes it when a parent tells them quite forcefully, “No!” Now just like a good parent, because God the Father is also good, in fact the source of what is good and should truly be the example we should use in what good parenting looks like, He provides us a list of do nots. He does not do this out of ill-will or hatred or whimsicalness. He provides the Law out of love. A child does not know what is good and bad, thus they need a parent to teach them this. The same goes for us spiritual infants, for we cannot comprehend morality and will always depend on God to give us the template, aka the Law, to help us truly understand what is good and what is sin. He gave us the Law so that we would know how to walk a healthy life style.
The Law was given to us all for our sake. God didn’t force it down on us like some evil tyrant who orders his subjects to do this or that. And the Law wasn’t given in such a way that we would get thrown into Hell because we disobeyed it. Instead the Law, which existed since the beginning of time, was given to illuminate for us that which was already considered good and what was already considered bad. Thus we don’t go to Hell because we disobey the Law per se, but because we act in a manner that the Law is trying to warn us will always lead us towards Hell. The Law is good, it warns us of bad behavior and guides us towards good behavior, all for our sake. In fact the only reason why perceive the Law as
bad and a curse is because we are sinners and can’t help but keep on sinning despite the fact that the Law warns us of such sins. This is why many come to hate the Law, because their guilty conscience is getting attacked by the Law which was designed not to damn but lead us towards the only healthy life style.
Now, one such habit of a healthy life style, provided for us by God, is to keep the Sabbath day holy. Like the Law, the Sabbath was designed for humans, given to us by God as a gift out of love, all for the sake of directing us toward a healthier life style befitting a mature Christian. And like Jesus said, Man was not created for the Sabbath but that the Sabbath was created for Man.
So if the Sabbath was created for Man then what purpose does it serve? Quite simply, it was made to encourage recharging. Men were not created capable of working each and every day without getting tired physically, mentally, nor spiritually. Eventually we all need a rest so that we can recharge and keep on working. A man who works six days a week and rests on the seventh will always be more productive, happier, focused, energized, and stable than the one who works all days of the week. In fact, all things eventually finds rest, either due to strain and your body or mind forces you to slow down, or unfortunately due to death. Having a day of rest, a day to relax and recoup, will always be important. God knew this, so in the Laws he provided us the instructed necessity to stop one day out of seven and to reflect on God who is the source of life. So who better can recharge you than God himself, most especially through Word and Sacrament?
On Sunday, we rest and come to church so that as one congregation, a communion of saints, may worship together to receive and proclaim as one body, the Word and the Sacraments, both of which Christ is truly present. Thus we literally are receiving Christ, and it is this receiving that gives us the strength, not just spiritually, but also mentally and bodily, to work all the other days of the week.
Now some may say why the 6 to 1 ratio? Why not once a month or once a year? Why is it once a week? Does not God know all the hairs on your head? Is He not the source of all knowledge and wisdom? And is not the supposed fooliest of God wiser than the wisest of men? He said once a week, because he knew this was the perfect ratio. He even lead us by example by creating for six days and then resting on the seventh. If God rested on the seventh, and if we lowly humans are much lesser than our creator, then I believe once a week should be satisfactory for us humans as well.
But so that the Pharisees of today’s times don’t abuse the Law, understand this: the Sabbath was made for us so that we do not needlessly tire ourselves out, believing in false narcissistic notions such as the might and wisdom of humans. Because of this, it is perfectly alright for me and all other pastors to lead worship on the Sabbath day for your sake, it is perfectly alright to care for the needy such as David did on the Sabbath, it is alright to feed your animals, your family, and yourself as food is necessary to live, and it is most certainly alright to worship on the Sabbath day.
Again the point of the Sabbath is to promote a healthy life style that lifts up Life, and of course the only way to truly accomplish this is by receiving Christ who is the source of Life.
As you come to the altar table today remember this, the Sabbath was made for man so you can be filled with new life through Word and Sacrament. Thus Communion, like the Sabbath, was made for man to fill you with Life, to fill you with Christ who is the source of Life.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, out of kindness for your most precious creation you instructed us the importance of the Sabbath, not chaining us to the Sabbath but creating it as a service for us so that we may receive the necessary portions of Life which can only come from you in Word and Sacrament in order to sustain us the rest of the week, bodily, mentally, and spiritually. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.