The older I get, the more I appreciate simplicity.
As a teenager, I remember getting excited if a new ice cream flavour showed up on the horizon.
Then, there were potato chips.
Potato chips in the basic flavour were fabulous, but then we learned there was a sour cream & onion flavour, barbecue, hot ‘n spicy and a host of other options. Everything changed. Suddenly, the humble potato chip could not be enjoyed on its own merit. It became a mere conveyor of seasonings and spices.
Human beings have a knack for complicating things, and unnecessary complexity – invariably – gives rise to disagreements because we suddenly have this ‘need’ for others to like our flavour preferences.
We can argue from now until the cows come home, but ‘a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still‘.
The herd will be looming large on the horizon when it dawns on you that you had wanted to clean the barn but wasted all your time in an argument that proved to be an exercise in futility.
The Gospel is simple. It has always been, and it will always be. This is the very thing I appreciate about it. Sprinkle flavourings all you want, but the heart of the gospel defies any attempt to confuse the issue.
- We are saved by grace through faith in Christ. Period.
- With the assurance of this salvation, we live as redeemed individuals by adhering to the commands of the One who gave all so that we could live in hope of eternal life. This is simple: we join the force, so we wear the uniform. In this case, the uniform is one of obedience – the kind of obedience that makes us better neighbours, family members, friends and citizens.
There is one particular command that many have come to view as problematic. It has to do with a command to keep the seventh day holy. Is that singular command – set in the midst of the other nine – still valid and binding?
Since Pope Francis is making waves across the globe, maybe the Catechism he uses will be more acceptable to those who question the clarity of Scripture. Here is an excerpt from the Catholic catechism in the Vatican’s archives:
“2169 In speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.”93
2170 Scripture also reveals in the Lord’s day a memorial of Israel’s liberation from bondage in Egypt: “You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with mighty hand and outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.”94
2171 God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant.95 The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.
2172 God’s action is the model for human action. If God “rested and was refreshed” on the seventh day, man too ought to “rest” and should let others, especially the poor, “be refreshed.”96The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money…..” [emphasis mine]
The highlighted section forms part of the reason that I find controversy befuddling.
Anyone who has ever had to sign a contract knows what irrevocable means. You hold your pen in mid-air and assess all the pros and cons before signing, because it is clear that there is no turning back once that has been done. The terms are unchangeable.
Whatever practices spiritual Israel may choose to add to its repertoire, there can be no tampering with the base flavour. The Decalogue is irrevocable.
It is also surprisingly simple to find out which day is referred to as the seventh since it comes just before Resurrection Sunday – when all Christ-followers “rested according to the commandment.”
No muss. No fuss.
While I am here, I will also tell you how to rid the world of this pesky Sabbath controversy:
Find Biblical proof that God authorised a change.
Jehovah God went to so much trouble to proclaim the Decalogue from Sinai, almost sending his chosen people into apoplectic shock. Surely, if He decided to change His previously-irrevocable Law, He would have thought to give irrefutable evidence to that effect.
It just makes sense.
Nice and simple.
*Image Source: Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)