This excellent article from Milnrow Evangelical Church in the UK.
“Before you get rid of the Christian’s God, you must first get rid of the Christian’s day”, exclaimed Voltaire, the French sceptic. The cry of ‘No Sunday’ is only a stepping stone to that of ‘No God’. It is little wonder we are witnessing a concerted, vicious attack by humanists on this divine institution. Few could deny that with the demise of our Sunday Schools, we have seen a rise in violent anarchy, perpetrated not only by mindless football hooligans, but by well-heeled yuppies in Tory shires.
‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people’ is now seen to be more than a Biblical quotation on a Wayside Pulpit. It is being out-worked before our eyes. Murder by the million (in abortion on demand), epidemic venereal diseases and HIV/AIDS in our permissive age, and breakdown of discipline in classroom, home and society, are all chickens which have come home to roost. God’s laws are not the needless restrictions of a despot, but the provision of a loving Creator. He made us, and He knows what is best for us. That is why all His commandments make good sociological sense, as well as providing us the best spiritual discretion.
Tragically, Sunday has become a fun day. Pews, once full, have been replaced by queues. For Lord’s Day read World’s Day. Politicians and churchmen alike pour scorn on this ancient institution. Ironically, all too often those who argue for the retention of this Sabbath of rest are inconsistent. I recognise that politics is the art of the possible – hence the perpetual compromise of Parliament. As a past parliamentary question time revealed, fudge at Westminster is twice as expensive as that purchased outside the House! As Christians, however, we emphasise that expediency is no substitute for principle. Situational ethics may be the order of the day in our society, but we have absolute standards we need to maintain.
In our country there are two major systems of philosophical though. The first is built on revealed truth (the Bible). On this is placed the block of divine creation, then absolute morality, issuing in responsible man and a caring world. The alternative has humanistic philosophy as its foundation. Atheistic evolution is placed on this, then situational ethics (or amorality), issuing in autonomous man and self-centred society. In pursuance of the later scenario, the forces of evil have gathered to destroy the Lord’s Day. What God has forcibly set forth in the Bible should be a cardinal principle in our living.
Thank God for Christians in a secular society who have stood firm for this principle.
Lord Shaftesbury, the great factory reformer, and William Wilberforce, emancipator of the slaves, had no doubt on this score. On Sundays, Wilberforce attended church twice and would neither travel nor discuss politics except in the gravest emergency. He sought always whilst a bachelor to spend a part of Sunday in self-examination, and a part in acts of kindness to strangers or friends; then after dinner he would consider his friends one by one and think how he could help them and pray for them individually.
Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903 built the first true aeroplane at Kitty Hawk. One weekend the King of Spain asked to see it fly – but was told that they never flew on Sundays. The film industry has highlighted the courage of Eric Liddell, who would sacrifice an Olympic medal rather than run on the Lord’s Day. What hypocrisy that the organisers of the Leeds Marathon should play the theme music from Chariots of Fire as the competitors crossed the finishing line one Sunday!
Speaking in Parliament, Lord McCauley said, “We are not poorer but richer, because we have, for many ages, rested from our labours one day in seven. The day is not lost. While industry is suspended, while the plough lies silent in the furrow, while the Exchange is silent, while no smoke ascends from the factory, a process is going on quite as important to the wealth of nations as any process which is performed on more busy days. Man… is repairing and winding up, so that he returns to his labours on the Monday with clearer intellect, with livelier spirit, with renewed corporeal vigour”.
Let us in this century similarly show the way. Let the whole day be a holy day.
by Professor Verna Wright
(Day One Magazine, Autumn 1998)