Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).
The Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27).
Let us make every effort to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:11).
What do we do with God’s instruction to keep Sabbath? How do we do it in the 21st century? So much information is available about the topic of Sabbath…and a lot of opinion.
What if instead getting lost in the legalism of keeping—like the Pharisees did in Jesus time—we just decided to, as Lynne Baab suggests: “just establish sabbath patterns that nurture intimacy with God (p.12, Sabbath Keeping).”
Merely emptying our day of certain activities is like suggesting fasting is just the absence of eating. If we don’t fill up the time with God-honoring relational activities the absence is just absence…it’s meaningless.
And what about the people who have to work on what we would typically consider the Sabbath or Lord’s Day (and don’t get me started on the differences)? Are doctors, nurses, firefighters, and police—to name a few—doomed and damned because their schedules require them to work? Is it ok for pastors whose number one work day is the Lord’s Day to carve out time on a different day of the week?
Does Jesus look at us with our scattered and scurry-filled lives and offer the same invitation he gave to those who he saw chaffing under the unbearable load of rules and expectations?
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? 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, The Message).”
Baab tells of a woman, Ann, who had been keeping sabbath for over 30 years. She says: “The sabbath is one of those gospel duties that absolutely convinces us of the goodness of God. The more we practice it, the greater a privilege it becomes, the more essential it feels, the deeper it connects us to the river of life that provides fruit in all seasons…The sabbath-keeping command is like the promise, “O taste and see that the Lord is good (p. 17, Sabbath Keeping).”
One more thought from Baab: Only in stopping, really stopping, do we teach our hearts and souls that we are loved apart from what we do (p. 18, Sabbath Keeping).
As a child, back when we Sunday afternoons were heavy-laden with restrictions, I didn’t understand why…and I had no appreciation. None of it seemed like a gift. It was a lot like fasting: I just came away wanting more—but never more of God.
It’s quite revolutionary to think that this command to rest comes as part of God’s lavish love for us and his amazing grace.