Gospel Message & Recording
When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden, He did it so that human beings could enjoy the pleasures of life. The sun, moon, rivers, animals, that is, all of God’s creation, was created for the enjoyment of humans. Further, God did not need to create human beings or the universe. He did it out of love, not out of necessity. God has no need for anything, for in Him there is fullness and completion. (Otherwise, He would not be God.) All things were created so that humans (and all living things) might grow closer to God. To sum-up, all things were created for man to enjoy, for his/her benefit and spiritual growth.
In the gospel reading today Jesus and his disciples pluck grain while they are walking through a field. Pharisees and other authorities in seeing this challenged Jesus. They asked, “Why are your disciples doing work on the Sabbath.” Jesus rightly replies, “Sabbath is made for man; not man for the Sabbath.” What Jesus was trying to say was that Sabbath was established by God (His Father) for the benefit and enjoyment of man. Sabbath was not, in other words, to be lorded over man as a law to be followed. It was intended however to be used to worship God willingly and voluntarily, not forcefully or reluctantly.
Most of us come to church because we think that God requires our worship. Absolutely not! On the contrary, God does not need our worship; we need Him. Our worship, praise, fasting does not add anything to God. So then why worship God? Or why go to church Sunday? The answer is because it benefits us. It allows us to grow close to God. In the end, we need it; and God established it for us.
There is great value in disciplining children to attend church and to say the orthodox prayers at home. It should be done. Nevertheless, at one point, in the life of an orthodox Christian, there is a shift from the “forced” and “reluctant” to “willingly” and “voluntary.” If this “shift” does not happen, Sabbath becomes our “chain”. That is, a thing to do because we have to; or because our parents taught it to us, or our community will look at us differently if we don’t. On the contrary, if the “shift” occurs, we will see Sabbath (Sunday, church life, prayer, fasting) as a form of enjoyment that was created for us.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a place where we are grudgingly going to church. Or we reluctantly pick up the prayer book to pray. Life and its business weigh down on us and the joy of loving the Lord Jesus, enjoying church-worship, and benefiting from the ministries of the church soon become a burden. If we find ourselves in this place, we need readjust our priorities in life and earnestly find ways to bring the joy back in our relationship with Christ and His Church.
Small Group Discussion Questions
- Do you find yourself attending church, praying and/or fasting and feeling like it is a burden? If so, why? Discuss.
- Did you ever think you had to enjoy your relationship with Christ, praying, attending church, fasting etc.? How would you define “enjoying?
- What are some initiatives we can take in our life to enjoy our Orthodox Christian experience?