Moral Obligations

There seems to be a morphing of the topic that started before Christmas on whether it is necessary to observe Sunday Sabbath. It turned into a discussion between eminent Christian bloggers on the topic of whether Sabbath is required at all for Christian freedom and grace…. and so, late this night, I found myself starting @ Parableman’s and reading through numerous blogs and comments.
Parableman: Christians and the Sabbath

Christians and the Sabbath

There’s been a little bit of outrage lately among Christian bloggers about some megachurches that aren’t holding meetings of their congregations on Christmas….

You can start there, if you like…then move on to Parableman: More Sabbath Stuff

A little while back, Jollyblogger responded to my criticism of Sabbatarianism. His general view seems to be that the 10 Commandments are part of the moral law, while other laws were abrogated. Jesus then must have been talking about only this segment of the law (a segment the Bible never isolates as such) that he calls the ceremonial law. I think it’s much more obvious that Jesus really was talking about the whole law as fulfilled.

It helps to read over @ Jollyblogger, as well.

But if I strip off the descriptive phrases of Sabbath or Christmas, etc…. I am left with this:

Do Christians have moral obligations?

That helped me to think a bit. I already have the premise that we are not under the law, and that we have no obligatory rules…. but what about this idea of moral obligation. We all, as Christians, recognize that we do have moral obligations, that it is wrong to do or not do some things. For instance take the word Sabbath, since we are using this…. is it wrong to not take certain time for God, IOW, do we have a moral obligation to take time for God, and what parameters does that entail. Giving… we would all recognize that the Christian is morally obligated to be giving. Not in a specific time or way, perhaps, but something is morally wrong with the picture of the Christian who is not giving… and then my question is “why?”

There have to be universal principles of some sort which are incumbant upon even the Christian…. or maybe even especially upon the Christian, in light of all God has done and what we know of that.

But truthfully… the best explanation I can come up with is the idea of “the rule of love” and the pragmatic working out of Faith. That is, having faith that works by love will equate certain behaviors… and those are from what the Law of Moses and the Prophets have informed our thinking.

It is as if we cannot escape those things as foundational to our understanding, even if our obedience takes other forms than the Law spelled out.

Anyway, that is what I go to bed thinking about now….. we have no rules, but we still have moral obligations within Christ Jesus…. and perhaps all this might have something to do with not hiding your light under a basket and not burying your talent in the ground..certainly with what we owe such a great love and sacrifice as we have enjoyed in Christ… but I am too tired to think anymore tonight-g’nite!

4 thoughts on “Moral Obligations”

  1. I agree that we have moral obligations, and I agree that taking time for God is one of them. I’d go further, though. I think our obligation is to take all of our time for God. If we take just some of it and call that a Sabbath, I believe we’ve violated our moral obligations to our creator. The old covenant had a symbol of the taking of time for God, the reserving of a component of our time as a sign that our time belongs to God, just as it had a tithe, the reserving of a component of our money as a sign that all of our money belongs to God. The sign itself shouldn’t be used as an excuse to pretend our obligation is less than it is, but that’s what happens when we legalistically follow a Sabbath code or a tithe code, neither of which is repeated outside the confines of the specific obligations Israel had as the covenant community of their time.

  2. Jeremy – while I appreciate your high aspirations, agree with and admire them… I have to say that “I think our obligation is to take all of our time for God” has a weakness in it. That isn’t what God requires; and when I think of the word “obligation” I think of a requirement.

    One reason that grace supercedes law is exactly what you have stated in outlining the weakness of having the legalistic minimum.

    I think much of the trouble of this discussion comes under the heading of “old covenant”. Sabbath is a concept that starts in Genesis, and my strongest argument for it as a Christian is that Jesus followed observation of Sabbath. I think He did this as more than “fulfilling the law”, I think He showed us the true example of how we should live ( which I know you agree with )… and thus, his type of observation is the true one. It chastised the legalistic one constantly-which is why He seemed to get in such trouble over it.

    I would still maintain that there is more than the abstract principle of Sabbath, different from the perfection of fully entering God’s rest. It is a step in the pathway to get in the habit of resting and concentrating upon God’s priorities and interests one day in the turn of the week, whether Saturday or Sunday. Those days being more natural, but not legalistically so.

    The main argument I would have with your view is that it tends to work contrary to man, just as much as the legaistic minimums do. I think it should be held as a standard just as the one day a week Sabbath should be held as a measure. We seem to need such things to circumvent our tendency to deceive ourselves into a place where we make no progress.

    Progress towards God, knowing Him seems to be the goal… a consistant Sabbth keeping seems most conducive to actually accomplishing that, but with the view that you voiced: we are not our own, but we have been bought with a price… and are indeed obligated to our fullest in mind /heart /soul and time measures of those things. That is how I personally interpret the term: moral obligation.

    I must give you your point, while I continue to amend it with my caveat.

  3. quick answer

    I think churches have an obligation to offer services on Sundays, the Lord’s day. If they are Christian that is. I suppose midnight service can count – wouldnt want to be too legalistic 🙂

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