Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sunday Morning - When the Games Are More Important Than Our God

When I was growing up in the 1960s stores were not open on Sundays. It was the Sabbath, and the followers of Jesus were given this day as a gift. As Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made to serve us." (Mark 2:27, The Message)

My father didn't work on Sundays. We would go to meet with our church family in the morning, then go home where my mother had food prepared for us. The rest of the day was for rest, which meant, for me as a young boy, playing.

But no shopping. No school activities. Gas stations were closed. Hardly a restaurant was open. And no sports events for us kids. (I am not making this up!)

All this felt normal to me. But then the world began to change.

By the time Linda and I had our children, restaurants were mostly open, people were working, businesses were making money on Sundays. Some people, it seemed, worked all the time. We never saw them on Sunday mornings when the Jesus Tribe convened and worshiped.

People began organizing sports activities and leagues that had their games on Sunday mornings. Our family did not participate in them. Linda and I were mentoring our children the best way we knew how. And this included the counsel of Hebrews 11:25: Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

But some parents were sacrificing their children on the altars of the godless soccer leagues. They had traded the habit of meeting together in worship for sports. (No, sports are not intrinsically godless. But giving up the Hebrews 11:25 idea is.)

This is paganism, right? God is not leading these Sunday morning leagues. God is not saying, "I don't really think it's that important for my people to regularly gather together. Once in a while is good enough. If they make it on Christmas Sunday or Easter that would be cool. So...  Let there be Sunday morning sports leagues for kids!"

And it was so.

This is our creeping secular world, slowly imposing its irreligious values on our families and children. Secular American culture dismisses the idea of Sabbath gatherings. Secular culture now rules in the hearts of many who have forsaken discipling their children into the Jesus Way.

Pretty intense, right? Look. The secular people who schedule kids leagues on Sunday mornings care nothing about Hebrews 11:25. Or the Sabbath. Or the spiritual path Jesus set before us. Or The Mission. These fully secular human beings are not having discussions like this:

"Let's have our league on Sunday morning."

"But we can't. Remember the Sabbath!"

"Oh yeah, we don't want to give up meeting together as God's people. Besides, we're all followers of Jesus and we refuse to stop meeting together, like it says in the book of Hebrews."

Christian parents who succumb to secular pressure have been "shaped into this world's mold." (Romans 12:1-2) Clearly, the Sabbath has become less important than the soccer game.

Did you ever see the movie "Chariots of Fire?" This movie won an Oscar for best picture. Many of us were moved by the story of Scottish Olympic champion Eric Liddell. At the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Liddell refused to run in the heats for his favored 100 meters because they were on a Sunday. He instead competed in the 400 meters, which he won. We admired him for this. Liddell returned to China in 1925 to serve as a missionary teacher, where he remained until his death in a Japanese civilian internment camp in 1945.

Liddell chose Jesus over a game. Parents who sign their kids up for Sunday morning leagues send their children a strong message about what is really valuable in life, which is: the game is more important than our God. 

Think I'm over-reacting? Want some academic backup on how creeping secularism has overtaken the Church?

"In our world, we think that “religion” is separate from — and optional to — our social and political life." (Robert Joustra; Alissa Wilkinson, How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World, p. 23)

See Charles Taylor's brilliant, must-read, massive A Secular Age.

See James K. A. Smith, How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor