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Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Honouring God in all things - A Differing Contrast in conduct between Jacob Stockdale and members of The Kilkeel Hockey Club.

Two recent articles in the Belfast Telegraph highlighted contrasting views towards the issue of honouring the Lord in every area of life.

The first is contained in an interview with Ulster and Ireland rugby player Jacob Stockdale. The interview first appeared in the February 2019 edition of the Presbyterian Herald magazine and was subsequently reported in the Belfast Telegraph. See here

Jacob Stockdale professes to be a Christian and has stated that being a Christian in the rugby world can be tricky, adding that he feels the biggest challenge to his faith is the perceived culture.

Further quotes from the interview are: There is a very small percentage of people who have any sort of Christian faith within the rugby world and that can be a tough challenge.

It's a challenge that I don't always get right; sometimes I can get into fights on the pitch and do things that probably don't point towards me being a Christian, so the challenge is trying to get it right more times than I get it wrong

Discussing what he describes as the "perceived culture" in rugby, Jacob Stockdale stated that he is a firm believer that you can't completely detach yourself from that culture because it makes it hard to socialise, to interact with your team-mates.

At the end of the day, the guys that I play with are my really close friends, whether they're Christians or not. When you have team socials where there is a lot of drinking involved, you have to balance it; go, maybe have a few drinks but know when to stop drinking and be smart about it in that sense.

I think it's detrimental not to go to team socials and to distance yourself from your teammates and colleagues - at the end of the day you're here to be an evangelist and separating yourself from others doesn't help.

If Christians and especially young Christians are to follow Jacob Stockdale's example then they would have: (i) no difficulty socialising with the world's crowd; (ii) no regard for sabbath keeping, for Jacob Stockdale has no problems playing rugby on the Lord's day and (iii) no problem with consuming alcohol. 

Each of these compromises with the world are wrong!
1. How can a professing Christian countenance socialising with those who have no love or regard for the things of God? The Christian is to be separate from the ungodly spirit that is in the world and which is manifested in the conduct and attitudes of those who know not Jesus Christ. The Scripture states: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2:15.

Furthermore if a Christian is true and faithful to Christ the Lord Jesus said that the world would not want their company: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me, John 15:18-21. The Saviour said that the world loves their own but hates those who are faithful to Christ. 

2. How can a professing Christian countenance drinking alcohol? Alcohol is an 'evil thing'. The Bible defines 'evil' as being not only that which is morally wrong but also that which brings trouble,  misery and disaster etc into someone's life and the lives of others. 

There are over 30 ways in which the word 'evil' is used in the Word of God. One example will suffice to illustrate the way this term in used in Scripture, cf.  Jeremiah 24:8: And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt

Figs that may make someone ill are described as being evil. This is not attributing a moral character to the figs but using the term in the wider way in which it is employed by God in His Word. Bad or evil figs bring sickness and trouble to anyone's life which ate them, so likewise did the conduct of Zedekiah and his princes etc in Judah.

Alcohol is an 'evil'. It is a drug which brings brings misery and trouble to many, many people. The Bible warns Christians to Abstain from all appearance of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:22

For a professing Christian, whose life is so much in public view, to set such an example is grieving at best and unscriptural at worse. To drink alcohol to fit in with the world's crowd is a shoddy compromise with the world. This is is not a God honouring way for any Christian to live and certainly not an example for young Christians to follow. 

The obedient Christian is not to be conformed to the ways of the world, cf. Romans 12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

3. How can a professing Christian condone the neglect of sabbath observance? The Lord Jesus said: If ye love me, keep my commandments, John 14:15. Those commandments are summarised in what is known as the Ten Commandments. The fourth of these state that we are to Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy

Jacob Stockdale references the Presbyterian Church in his interview. The Shorter Catechism which is part of the subordinate standards of Presbyterianism says this about sabbath keeping in Questions 57-62 [Emphasis mine]:

Question 57: Which is the fourth commandment?
Answer: The fourth commandment is, 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, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Question 58: What is required in the fourth commandment?
Answer: The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.

Question 59: Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly sabbath?
Answer: From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath.

Question 60: How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
Answer: The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Question 61: What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
Answer: The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Question 62: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
Answer: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath da

The teaching of the Word of God, upon which these answers are based, forbids a Christian engaging in recreation on the Lord's day. To do so is disobedience to God. The whole day is to be given to the Lord. He only asks for one day in seven to be set aside for His honour.

The second incident is that of the Kilkeel Hockey Club which withdrew from playing a hockey match on the Lord's day. Read the Belfast Telegraph report here.

As a result of their principled stand all the teams from The Kilkeel Hockey Club have been banned from all Hockey Ireland cup competitions next season. To their credit and honour the Kilkeel Hockey Club has in the past withdrawn from Irish Hockey games when these were due to be played on a Sunday. 

You can be sure they wouldn't be treating the followers of Islam in this way if there was a conflict with their religious views!!

Obedience to the Word of God is to be commended and applauded. This principled and honourable conduct stands in stark contrast to that of Jacob Stockdale. It is better to be known for standing for principle than being known for compromising with the world! 1 Samuel 2:30: Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

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