I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. I’m a product of SDA schools. Elementary, high school, and even colleges….I was raised a certain way and no other way.
I’ve struggled. I struggled with the legalism that I felt was an inherent part of our faith. The unconditional love and grace of God was missing for me. As my relationship with God continues to grow and I get to know Him better, I see how legalism breaks His heart every bit as much as refusal to obey.
Keeping the Sabbath growing up wasn’t a heart thing for me, it was required, plain and simple. We had very specific rules that we had to follow that felt like nothing short of ridiculousness to me. As I’ve come full circle, misunderstood, felt misled, realized what was missing, gone to other churches, found what was missing, and returned for myself, I’ve come to a very different and beautiful realization about our faith.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we get accused of harping on the seventh day Sabbath. In my personal journey, I’ve come to realize that what feels like harping to others, is just us not ignoring it. We recognize it. We acknowledge it. We strive to honor all ten commandments, instead of just the nine. This makes us different, so we find ourselves having to explain it quite a bit, which sounds like harping to those who don’t agree.
We REMEMBER the seventh day to keep it holy just like it says to in the 4th commandment. And, yes, this is different. But, if “Thou shalt not lie” was ignored by most and one denomination decided to take it under their wing, they’d be accused of harping on that. Those “Sabbath keepers” would turn into those “Not liars”. Doesn’t make sense.
Most people don’t argue that the other nine should be honored as the Word of God. Because I do still find it relevant and just as important as the other nine, I strive to keep it as well. Although I know I could never do it perfectly. That’s why Jesus came. It’s a heart thing for me now, not an outward actions thing.
“Keeping it” looks different to everyone. I strive to acknowledge it and remember it like He asks us to. There seems to be quite a bit of hostility over this belief because it’s different and challenges how life is set up for most people these days. I understand the challenge. But, what I don’t understand is how it can be dismissed and shrugged off as unimportant so easily and completely. It’s neatly tucked right in the middle of all the other commandments that are collectively agreed upon as important. Why is it left out? Why has it been disregarded?
Will I keep any of the commandments perfectly? No. Have I? No. That’s why Jesus sent His Son to die for us because we are UNABLE to keep God’s law perfectly. He knew we needed a sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice. This is why we don’t sacrifice animals anymore to atone for our sins. He satisfied that. The perfect Lamb fulfilled the law. He did not abolish the law. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, please keep all the commandments, except the 4th (now that Jesus has died).
What broke Jesus’s heart and caused Him anger was how the Pharisees “kept” it. Looking to accuse Jesus of anything, they got angry when He healed someone on the Sabbath day (Mark 3:1-6). Are you kidding me?? They couldn’t heal anyone on any day of the week! Their hearts were in the wrong place. Jesus lived without sin and died for ours, so that we can be found blameless in the eyes of our Father. In light of this truth, I will still attempt to obey.
If you obey my commandments, you will live in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commandments, and in that way I live in His love. I have told you this so that you will be as joyful as I am, and your joy will be complete. John 15:10-11 (GW)
I believe obedience is God’s love language. If our hearts are right and surrendered to Him, all we WANT to do is what He asks us to do. Nothing more, nothing less. And, this brings us joy. When I stand face to face with my Creator, my Savior, I will have more peace knowing that I at least acknowledged and tried rather than ignored anything He has asked me to do.
True love WANTS to honor. I am fully convinced of the Seventh day Sabbath. I am not fully convinced on how to keep it. I think that’s personal between you, God, and what feels right for your family. What brings you peace and alignment with Him. I do think it’s a special day and a gift, just like all of God’s commands are.
I am aware that Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” in Mark 2:27. He said this when he was, once again, extremely irritated with the Pharisees for calling Him out for picking grain to eat on the Sabbath! Beyond frustrating because their hearts were all wrong. This is how I felt growing up, beyond frustrated, because my heart was all wrong regarding the Sabbath. It felt like an idol, more important than Jesus Himself. I imagined Jesus scratching His head as we followed the rules we were told we had to. Wondering why we focused so much more on that than on Him and His love and sacrifice for us.
God rested on the seventh day of creation, blessed it, and made it holy (Genesis 2:2). He asks us to rest on the seventh day and remember it (Exodus 20:8). Who doesn’t want a rest? A spiritually appointed rest? A divine excuse to stop what you’re doing, reflect on Him, spend time with your loved ones, relax, help and love on others, and trust God to provide. That sounds amazing! Not at all like a burden or an obligation. A requirement that I WANT to sign up for! Like the naps we despised as children and beg for as adults.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’ll happily go to church any day of the week. I love church. I love church service. I love praise music. I love being with other believers who love Jesus. I have no fundamental issue going to church on a Sunday, but because of my own personal conviction, I do have a fundamental reason for remembering the seventh day to keep it holy. And, that is Saturday. In others churches, I found the love and grace, but the 4th commandment was missing….Something was always missing.
I think God knew this commandment in particular would be forgotten or done away with. I think that’s exactly why He started this particular commandment with “Remember” as opposed to “Thou shalt not”. Do you think it would make a difference? Do you think if He had put “Thou shalt not forget the Sabbath day” like the others that more people would take it seriously? Interesting thought. Nonetheless, He put “Remember”. So, I will do just that. I will try to keep all ten. I have failed. I will continue to fail. But, I will not stop trying. Because I love Him and I trust Him and I think my willingness and desire to obey pleases Him. Humbly attempt to keep His Word and fully rely on His grace in my weakness is all I can do with a love like this.
Something was always missing in the puzzle to me….What’s your missing piece?
If this article leads to anything on your part, I pray it’s to study for yourself. Ask Him for yourself. Follow His leading. What does the Bible say? All of it. New and old testament. Pray about it. Ask God if it matters. In my opinion, if anything matters to God, it should matter to us. If it doesn’t, it shouldn’t.