Dear Sabbath Seekers,
It’s not about doctrine. It’s about relationships. Leonard Sweet coined this a few years back in a book called, Out of the Question and Into the Mystery. We have gotten so hung up on right thinking that we have forgotten about right relationship. How we respond to and interact with those around us speaks volumes about our faith as well as our own relationship with God. For many people today there seems to be a disconnect between what we say we believe and how we treat others.
A few years back I had to come to terms with this in my own family. A dispute over a will dredged up old wounds and slights which became the catalyst for fifteen years of silence between myself and others in my family. Not one of my proudest moments but at the time I felt totally justified. Funny thing about that self-righteous justification. It went from feeling so good to feeling like a gnawing hole in my soul and one I tried my best to ignore. Births and weddings went unacknowledged. Connections were lost and relationships were badly injured.
There was nothing scriptural or faithful about this family destroying feud. And, even though, it took fifteen years, I finally had to come face to face with the disconnect that I created between what I professed to believe and how I was acting. It became clear that I had to apologize for my part in this rending of the family fabric and I did.
Here’s the thing, though. Only one of those involved accepted my apology. Grateful for her grace, the fact was that the fabric was still torn. In addition, a further tear occurred as anger was directed at her for reconciling with me. Sigh….
And the final tear came with a death and the fabric in that relationship could never be repaired.
Alan Paton said in Cry, The Beloved Country, that “the tragedy isn’t that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again.”
So what does this have to do with Sabbath keeping? It’s not about doctrine. It’s about relationships. The keeping of Sabbath is not about doctrine. It’s about the relationship we have with God, maintaining that relationship and letting that relationship guide our decisions and actions. The more deeply I became aware of the call of God on my life and in my relationships, the more deeply I heard and experienced the words love one another as I have loved you. The more deeply I was convicted by God’s grace that my faith and my life’s relationship had to be based on the love and reconciliation given to me, the more deeply I knew I had to live out that love and reconciliation with those with whom I was estranged.
And as I shared it didn’t work out happily ever after. What it did do, though, was bring me into congruence with my values based on my relationship with God. My relationship was God was righted in my own heart.
Don’t misunderstand this and attempt to reconcile with an abusive relationship – that cannot be of God or to put yourself into a one down position with anyone. God created us and loved us equally. No one better or less than.
I realize that this moment in my life relationships and my relationship with God created a shift that informs my Sabbath time, my time set aside with God, which in turn informs my time with those that God has placed in my life. And I remember…It’s not about doctrine. It’s about relationships.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.” 1 Cor. 13.1