We live in a society which is “Go! Go!”, “Do! Do!”. Constantly on the move and never stopping. We pack our schedule with events. Work countless hours to make ends meet. Squeeze in time for family and friends. Run kids to events and practices. And then on the weekends everything seems to come to a crashing halt. We want to go nowhere and do nothing. Many of us do not even take that option though as we try to catch up on everything we may have missed during the week – yard work, laundry or balancing the budget just to mention a few. And then the vicious cycle begins again on Monday morning. But are we missing something?
Consider these verses:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” – Exodus 20:8
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath… – Mark 2:27
Are we missing something? No, this is not a plea to have perfect Church attendance or to see how many years you can go without missing Christian Education. I am not asking you to turn in a bulletin while you are out on vacation to prove you checked the box. In fact, the only commandment of the Ten Commandments that is not repeated is this one. Why? Two explanations are warranted:
- We worship on Sunday in celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection. The Sabbath is technically the seventh day of the week – Saturday. We celebrate the Christian “Sabbath” on Sunday because that is the day that Christ rose from the grave and we meet together to celebrate this fact. This was as well the practice of the early Church (Acts 20:7). The number eight can be seen in Scripture as a number of new beginning (Practice of Circumcision, Pentecost). Sunday is the eighth day and in Christ we have a new birth. As we are no longer held by the Old Testament law and guided by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18), Christians gather on Sunday to honor the resurrection of Christ and the regular assembly together of believers (Heb. 10:25).
- We no longer esteem one day as set apart, but all days. There was a debate in the Church as recorded in Romans Ch. 14 of whether one day should be set apart or ALL days. Notice that the debate was not that NO days should be set apart. Basically, it is akin to the classic argument of whether we should celebrate Jesus birth especially on Christmas or on ALL days. Not that we should drop this emphasis all together. When Christ came, we changed from giving God just a portion (Sabbath or tithe) to all of who we are. A portion of our life is not holy. All of us should be holy. I would argue that many of us are amiss on just setting aside one day, yet alone 24/7/365 days.
The central point to the above explanations is that rest is warranted and is to be in Christ. Are we truly doing this though? Not just getting a nap in on Sunday afternoon (which of course I try to do!), but are we intentionally carving out time devoted to our Heavenly Father. This means to worship and praise God. This means to build relationships, both with God and others. This means to put away the task list for one day. This means to breathe.
This is not something that is simply a suggestion. Instead, we need to recognize that God made and designed us to step back and recalibrate. To recognize His plan above all others. To recognize our place in the grand scheme of things. To understand that our purpose is not about doing, hording or popularity. It is about being in Him. Yet, it seems, that the moments when we do come to a halt, we recalibrate ourselves to what the world defines as rest. We find ourselves wide-eyed, bloodshot and discontent.
So, what does it mean to set aside Sunday? I can’t explain that perfectly, nor do I think we should. Or else, we create a legalistic standard in which the checklist is the goal. Instead, we need to look into the Scripture as we are guided by the Holy Spirit to ask God which areas do we need to dedicate to Him and which areas to remove. We need to ask ourselves whether we are truly resting in Him. Are we setting aside a day each week to breathe?
I wanted to share two quick resources that fits well into this topic. The first one is an article by John Piper about this topic and the other is a music video by Johnny Diaz. This was also the video sung by Bethany on Mother’s Day as encouragement to rest at Jesus’ feet. I would encourage you to review both as we are moving into the weekend.