Monday, May 21, 2007

Civilization and Sabbath

Today in Gospel Essentials our class discussed the importance of the fourth commandment in the Ten Commandments: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work" (Ex 20: 8-10).

As our discussion commenced, I was reminded of a PBS documentary on ancient civilizations. The documentary was making the point that hunter-gatherers could barely obtain enough calories to survive. They had to constantly work to find food or risk starvation. What differentiated hunter-gathers from humans who developed advanced ancient civilizations was the existence and cultivation of a quality staple grain. In Ancient America it was corn. In the Middle East, the cradle of civilization, the staff of life was wheat.

Wheat was so easily planted, grown, harvested, and stored and is so excellent in its balance of nutrients, that for the first time, people had--FREE TIME. And with that free time people could stop worrying about the question, “what am I going to eat for lunch?” Instead, they could start asking questions like, “is this all there is?” “What is the purpose of life?” and “is there life after death?”

I am currently in a medical residency program and, of necessity, am forced to work long hours and Sundays. Oft times, I’ve been up for 30 hours at a time and working for 16 days straight without a day off. And, at times I don’t feel much different from a hunter-gatherer. I feel worn down physically, emotionally, and spiritually. During those times, I find it’s more difficult to be patient and in otherwise “put off the natural man.”

Yesterday, I was able to attend church with my family and partake of the sacrament (the bread and water symbolic of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ). I am able to examine my heart and recommit myself to following the Savior. I was born into the church and have never missed going to church for more than a week ever in my life until lately. But, I don’t think I appreciated the spiritual regeneration I feel though church and participation in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper as much as I do now that I haven’t been able to attend church as regularly.

I also would also call your attention to the oft-overlooked second part of the 4th commandment, “Six days shalt thou labour.” I think industry and hard work are also an essential characteristic of Christian living just as resting on the Sabbath Day is. As the adage goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” As Christians we should tirelessly devote and consecrate all of our time, talents, and energies to building our families, community, and the Kingdom of God.

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