Image, Work and Rest
Throughout the history of the Church a debate has occurred repeatedly concerning the practice of the Sabbath. Some practice the Sabbath on the first day of the week and nothing but worship and rest occurs that day. Others permit recreation and family activity in addition to worship. And yet many others do not practice Sabbath at all and fill all seven days of the week to the brim with activity.
Recently at LIFE International I was compelled to bring a challenge to our staff. This conviction was prompted by the Lord speaking to me about how I was not recognizing the Sabbath as He wanted me to. So here are a few basic thoughts and I hope this prompts you to dig into the subject further and consider this age-old debate for yourself.
First, if we are made in the Image of God, it would make sense that we would conduct our life reflecting His example. God created a work and rest pattern for us to follow as described in Exodus 20:8, which is a direct reflection of Genesis 2:2, which says God Himself rested on the seventh day after forming all of creation the first six days. So, one can clearly see that the pattern is, God worked six days and then rested on the seventh. Interestingly this pattern has formed the idea of a week which includes seven days. We practice this time span to this day and call it a week.
A very simple deduction and application from this passage would be, we work for six days and then rest on the seventh. If we work hard, rest is required physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. This is Gods design for us. Now comes the interpretation of rest. What rest means to one person can be something completely different for another. Regardless, I do not think we can ignore this passage, after all it is one of the ten commandments. Given the fact that God created this design for work and rest by His own example, and He included it with nine other commandments, should give us enough indication that He was very intentional about this concept of Sabbath.
Here is the challenge, have you discovered what God intended when He created Sabbath? It seems He would guide us in a healthy lifestyle and He created us with a Heavenly Design for living so we could have a long and prosperous life. Is Sabbath a key part of your life every week? It does not matter overall what others are doing, what does matter is what design God has for you. Seek Him out and ask Him how He wants to define Sabbath for you. He created you and He knows what is best for you. And one of the things we need most in our lives is God Himself. Time with God creates rest for our souls.
Sabbath is focused on God and the resting allows our body systems to settle for a short period so we can hear Him better. Many of us spend time on Sundays going to church, hearing Gods word proclaimed and worship. For some Sundays are full and busy. Pastors and church workers have very little rest on Sundays so they must seek another day for rest during the week. And, others, even though they do not have church duties, they fill the day with activity and when monday comes they are more tired than when the weekend began. This is what prompted my discussion with the Lord on this subject. I filled every day of the week with good things, mostly people activity. I care for others and when you’re in work that serves others, there is rarely enough time in the day or week that can address the issues adequately. I needed to change my pattern of work, rest and sabbath.
For me this meant looking at my Mind, body and soul. Rest for my mind I discovered meant allowing Gods word to renew my mind daily. I need to be in Gods word every day so my mind can find a resting place for its constant search for truth. My soul finds rest in only one place, that’s abiding with Christ as often as I can but being intentional in following Gods design was required. So, being much more intentional in how I was using Sundays needed to change. I took the first midday nap that I can remember this past Sunday. Wow, what a change! That addressed the third area, rest for my body. The best way to describe that would be, the couch.
The basic concept concerning Sabbath is, find a place of rest to meet with God every week and allow your schedule to slow down and give your body a rest physically as well. If you do this I believe you will begin to discover what God intended for you when He created this work/ rest pattern in the first place. I suspect you will see health increase in your mind, body and soul.