There are certain things that make us unique and utterly different from animals. We desire and aspire. We appreciate and applaud. We love unreasonably and can reason unlovingly. We laugh. And we can repair our souls while resting.Hebrews 4:9 "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God"
WE DESIRE AND ASPIRE
We have wants and dreams. We desire to have, to do, to go, and to know. We aspire to improve, contribute, achieve. This is a part of being human and created in the image of God.
WE APPRECIATE AND APPLAUD
We are able to recognise the difference between poor, good and great achievements. When we recognise the latter we often show our appreciation by applauding in some way. When a cat catches a mouse you rarely see the other cats from the neighbourhood gather around and clap (not that paws could clap that loudly anyway). But we humans often give in to the urge to show our appreciation. The highest compliment an artist could receive for their painting would be to have someone sit and admire it for hours. The act of sitting in this instance is actually disguising what is really happening. What looks like sitting is actually admiring and appreciating. (Husbands take note: Apparently women feel the same way when a man pays careful admiration to them.)
The recent Colorado tragedy where a deranged gunman senselessly shot at movie goers highlighted the best and worst in humanity. As the worst was rampaging the best were selflessly putting their bodies on the line to protect others from the showers of bullets. Many young men instinctively shielded nearby women and as a result died in doing so. This is called "altruism". It is an utter mystery to those atheists who hold to Darwinian Evolution as the explanation for how humanity came to be because it clearly does not fit within their story since it can not be about personal survival (or even the survival of the fittest). This kind of love is both unconditional and nicely unreasonable. Why do people do it? And why do people do it for complete strangers? Because we are created in the image of a God who loves unreasonably and unconditionally!
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(We all long to love and be loved. We are designed to find love firstly from our parents, then our family, then our friends, then our spouse and eventually from our church. I have discovered that when people do not find love in their home, their craving for love from elsewhere is very difficult to satisfy. This is why people in a loveless home may come into a church and become very critical of that church for not filling their love needs. A truly loving church will help people look to Christ as the Ultimate Source of their loving and through this lens they will recognise the sincere love that Christ provides for the less-loved through His Body.)
Animals do not negotiate or reason. We do. We can internally reason with ourselves about the consequences of our actions. We can reason with others about our opinions, ideas, or experiences. And even though our hearts may tell us one thing, we have the ability to reason toward the truth of a matter despite its impact upon us. People have reasoned that their nation was perpetrating acts of evil despite their hearts loving their nation (we saw this during the Second World War with people like Bonhoeffer).
LAUGHSecond Timothy 2:7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Humans are also unique because we laugh. We (well, most of us) have a sense of humour. When we enjoy something funny we laugh. It is almost involuntary!
We are created in the image of a God who laughs and enjoys.
RESTPsalm 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
We humans are created to repair and rest. Each night we need sleep to repair and rest. Every seventh day we are designed to cease from our regular activity and rest and repair our souls through congregational attention to worship and the Word. At least once a year we need a holiday of sorts so that we come away from the demands of ordinary life and rest. Every 10 to 15 years we need an extended time off work to take leave and have an extended rest. And eventually we will all need to rest from our work and retire.
Pastor Philip Hills used to say of Christians, We work from rest rather than rest from work. Hebrews 4 speaks of the rest that is available in Christ since He has done the work. We celebrate this rest from work each Sunday. Under the Old Covenant they looked forward to the rest that Christ would provide by anticipating it with their weekly Sabbath (Saturday) rest. Since Christ rose again from the dead on Sunday, poured out His Holy Spirit on a Sunday, and established the Church on a Sunday, we now celebrate our rest in Christ each Sunday.
When you come to worship in the House of God this Sunday, you are indeed coming to worship because you are created to desire God and aspire to be the person He has called you to be. You come to worship on Sunday because you are created to admire and applaud greatness - and no one is greater than God and therefore no one is more deserving of admiration and applause than Him. When you come to worship this Sunday you are coming to show love. When you come to worship together this Sunday you are coming to strengthen your reasons for trusting God. And when you come to worship this Sunday you are coming to rest from your ordinary work and celebrate the work which Christ could only do on your behalf. The rest we are looking for is found in worship.
Psa. 34:8 ¶ Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!