SABBATH GOD’S GIFT TO ME…
The older I get the more I like the idea/promise/command of Sabbath. I exist in continuing mode of fast paced living so I seldom have time for “real rest”…whatever that means. That’s why this week’s topic of Sabbath is intriguing to me. Can I really do rest and feel good about it? What will happen if I slow down and take some real time to reflect renew and reconnect? Will the work get done and the bills paid? And what about devotions, prayer and all that good stuff? I’m thinking these days that something in the fast pace world of me is changing. So here’s what I’ve discovered about Sabbath.
1. I have Sabbath running though my veins. The God who created me—the ONE whose image (Imago Dei) is stamped deep within me rested on the 7th day. I was created to be a person of Sabbath. So why is it that Sabbath, (created for my good), becomes something that I tend to spurn, avoid and run from like the plague. Maybe it has something to do with me…become so well-adjusted to my culture that I fit into it without even thinking (Romans 12:2*). Maybe there is some Kingdom value in continuing my role of the SUPER—pastor that needs no rest—Not.
I’m not alone in my lack of Sabbath. It seems that the worst models of Sabbath living in our society and faith communities are pastors. By the time I finish my responsibilities on Sunday, (the only day I really work), I’m worn out and next Sunday is coming fast. Who has time to take Monday off? And of course Monday runs into Tuesday and you know the drill—you look around one day and discover that there is no Sabbath rest in your life. I’ve been trying hard to reverse the lack of Sabbath in my life. So I started taking two-half days off a week for rest, reflection, and renewal a year ago. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m doing a whole lot better this year then in the past.
2. Sabbath comes from The Greek word sabbaton—IT means—rest from labor. Sabbath seems to be having a new birth—a resurgence of importance and observance among the youth of the Church. But the old arguments, Sabbath in the light of Jesus’ birth death and resurrection; Sabbath in light of New Testament grace and freedom; and Sabbath –vs.- Sunday still remain. There are still many questions… Is Sabbath an exact day…is it as our Jewish friends celebrate—from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday…is it an extended rest…a spiritual pilgrimage…a Sunday service?
3. God established the Sabbath • He was the One WHO rested on the first seventh day… By the seventh day God had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested from all his work. -Genesis 2:2*
• He was the ONE WHO blessed the day… God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done. -Genesis 2:3 *
• He was the ONE WHO gave the instructions concerning Sabbath to Moses… No working on the Sabbath; keep it holy just as God, your God, commanded you. Work six days, doing everything you have to do, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, a Rest Day—no work: not you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, your ox, your donkey (or any of your animals), and not even the foreigner visiting your town. -Deuteronomy 5:12-14*
4. Jesus confirmed the Sabbath. When Jesus was asked about his observance of the Sabbath he said, "The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren't made to serve the Sabbath. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He's in charge!" -Mark 2:28* In other words the Sabbath was created and commanded for my good. There are those who believe that Jesus’ moved into the neighborhood did away with the Sabbath command. Nice try, but that logic would not be in keeping with Jesus’ Sermon or Manifesto on the Mount when he said… "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them…You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment...You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." -Matthew 6:17, 21, 27-28*
Jesus never abolished or did away with the law or commands he always took them to the next level, i.e.-- adultery and lust—the same, Murder and hate—the same, Jesus talked about my motives and what’s going on in my heart. So it is with the Sabbath I can get all wrapped up in the legalize of the command/idea/promise at the expense of the spirit of Sabbath.
5. Sabbath is God’s Gift to me: Sabbath is more then…. a day off, a command to be kept, a lighten workload, or a Sunday. Sabbath is a mindset—a spiritual assignment that I gladly take-on and even relish because I know that it is in the rest, renewal reflection and reconnecting of Sabbath that I and my Creator become one… Sabbath slows me down and allows me to unplug from the stuff (even good stuff), that is constantly competing for my time and attention…Sabbath is being distracted by an audience of ONE…it’s a call for me to take Jesus up on his offer.
JAMES… "Are you tired? [YES] Worn out? [YES] Burned out on religion? [YES] Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30* I accept…Thanks LORD! –jfhey2
* All Bible are quoted from Eugene Peterson’s: The Message