July 1, 2016

​I Was Wondering

It can be a difficult situation to find yourself in when the local church is just not a good fit for you and your family.

Wilona Karimabadi, Lael Caesar & Sandra Blackmer

From time to time we will be answering questions from our readers. If you have a question you want us to consider, send it to: [email protected]. Put in the subject line “Wondering.”

Can I go to a Sunday church if I don’t get anything out of my Sabbath church?

My heart goes out to you. It can be a difficult situation to find yourself in when the local church (if you live in an area without several Adventist options) is just not a good fit for you and your family. You may wonder: Does it even matter? If I’m worshipping the Lord and drawing closer to Him, does Sabbath worship matter?

When I was in college (an Adventist one, mind you), I dated a guy whose father was the pastor of a Sundaykeeping congregation. At that point in my life, despite the plethora of Adventist churches near me, I wondered whether worshipping on Sabbath was all that important.

So I went to church with the boyfriend on a Sunday and found the congregation to be very nice and the service to be not that different from what I was used to. But I had a feeling deep in my heart that I couldn’t shake. I had the clear sense that this day was not the Sabbath of the Bible. That peaceful feeling that came over me on Friday evening after a long week of school that carried over until Saturday evening was not there. So I wrestled with the Bible and searched it for anything I could find about the Sabbath.

Long story short, I found reference after reference about the Sabbath being the day. My advice to you is to search the Scriptures and God’s heart to know what you should do. He’ll speak to you clearly. Be confident in that. There are also options for worship such as online streaming of Adventist services you could tune into to help you gain some spiritual food on Sabbath.

At the end of the day, though, take this issue to God. If you’re willing to do what He asks of you, He’ll lead you accordingly.

Your friend,

Wilona Karimabadi is an assistant editor of Adventist Review.

My family recently entertained an out-of-town friend. We took her to a restaurant for Sabbath lunch and learned afterward that she felt uncomfortable about it. What do you think?

I  guess I would think of the Gospels’ Sabbath stories, where religious authorities tried to set rules for Jesus’ behavior because they didn’t appreciate that He is Lord of the Sabbath. Nobody sets rules for Jesus. His aggressive holiness undid all their sincere yet farcical restrictions imposed on His day of fellowship (Matt. 12:1-8, 10-14; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 14:1-6; John 5).

From Genesis forward the Sabbath is about how we relate to awesome, unfathomable realities. 

Long ago it came to me that my most helpful focus vis-à-vis Sabbathkeeping would probably not be “Should I go out to eat?” or “Is splashing at the beach safer than hiking in the hills?” or “Should I buy gas on Sabbath?” or “Do I pay hotel bills during Sabbath hours?”

I decided to ask myself questions of another sort. As I live with and for Jesus during the week looking toward the day of holy rest, are my Sabbath plans for me, or are they for others (my kids, neighbors, strangers, folk in need)? Is my particular Sabbath activity for me, or is it for Jesus? How does it get me closer to Jesus? How does it deepen our mutual love and strengthen our relationship?

From Genesis forward the Sabbath is about how we relate to awesome, unfathomable realities. How shall we relate? Shall we be trapped in little, human casuistry? Shall we shrug off the sacred by making it as commonplace as possible? Shall we allow our Lord to elevate us through special communion?

After all, God established Sabbath as a weekly privilege of deepening our relationship with the infinite. If we value that original privilege, sin’s blight only heightens our longing for the kind of exclusive intimacy with our Creator that He made the Sabbath for. So the Sabbath becomes a precious memento of a time now lost, and a confirmation of our origins story.

Are you still there? I have two questions for you: What did you tell your friend? What would you tell her now?

Lael Caesar is an associate editor of Adventist Review. A longer answer to this question is available at AdventistReview.org.

How can the Sabbath be a delight if I can’t do what I want on the Sabbath?

Perhaps your focus is “off.”

I didn’t grow up Adventist, but some who did often see the words “can’t” and “Sabbath” as being almost synonymous: “No, you can’t go swimming today; it’s Sabbath.” “We can’t go to that community event today; it’s Sabbath.” As a parent, I personally found that instead of just saying “No, we can’t do that,” it helped make Sabbath more enjoyable for my daughter when I added, “But because it’s Sabbath, we get to do this.”

Everyone has their own opinions on what activities are appropriate for Sabbath, but what helps me is keeping in mind the principle that Sabbath is a memorial of Creation that is based on relationship, our relationship with our Creator-God and with one another. Life is busy for all of us, and sometimes it’s difficult to fit in the time we need for prayer and Bible study, playing with our children, having meaningful conversations with friends, being involved in ministry. But on Sabbath it’s different. It’s a space in time that helps to slow us down, and provides us with opportunities for spiritual growth and fellowship.

When we love someone, I don’t think there is anything more “delightful” than spending time with that person. So isn’t that what makes the Sabbath a delight, that it provides an opportunity to spend more time with those we love, especially God? And it gives us a chance to be more involved in service for others as well.

Sabbath gives us time. Time to stop and talk with the homeless person on the street and share an encouraging word. Time to affirm our children in what they accomplished that week. Time to tell our spouse that we love and appreciate them. Time to stop in to the local humane society and make a donation.

All these things we can do on the Sabbath. And I can’t think of too many things more delightful than that!

Sandra Blackmer is an assistant editor of Adventist Review.