"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Christians are called to trust and rest in God; yet busyness is often equated with worth. What does it mean to enter into Sabbath rest deeply rooted in trusting God that models healthy respect for Sabbath? Also, how can the spiritual practice of a Sabbath rest positively impact your life and leadership as you minister to others?
Being called to trust and rest in God is not just a suggestion, but a command. Scriptures such as Psalm 23 aren’t just some metaphorical suggestion, but paint a picture of relaxation for a moment. I am sure that the majority of the things we concern ourselves with daily, never come to pass. The same goes for our Sabbath day as the Church. To many in the church world today, the Sabbath is sacred while others disregard a specific day of the week or either the whole idea of having a Sabbath day at all. One thing is certain; God designed our bodies for the Sabbath (Exodus 20:9-10). The communist regime of Russia tried a one rest day out of ten for a while and soon discovered that it did not work as production slowed down and personal issues started developing within their population. As a result, a seven day cycle was brought back with one resting day. This can be a lesson for us today, especially those who work full-time jobs whether in ministry, secular, or even bi-vocational. Burnout is a real problem and once it begins, it has a snowball effect. To avoid burnout as well as a lack or productivity, we must maintain a healthy balance of understanding regarding the Sabbath day.
While we should hold the Sabbath day as Sacred in reverence of God and in respect for our bodies, we should avoid the legalistic interpretation such as found in the days of Jesus. In Mark 2:27 we are told by Jesus, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”. While the Pharisees and Jewish leaders of that day understood that the Sabbath was holy, they forgot one vital piece to the puzzle of God’s goodness in that He is “compassionate!” If we begin to uphold a law or all laws in general until they reach the point of becoming in higher esteem in our minds than God, we have developed them into an idol. This is what had happened in this instance. The Law had become such an idol to the Jews that the compassionate, loving, and sacrificial life of Jesus was right before their eyes and they missed it all. As followers of Christ, we must keep our beliefs and opinions in perspective as well as our interpretation of the Scripture. We should consistently seek the will of God and seek answers from him in prayer.
The Sabbath day allows us not only to become well physically refreshed, but spiritually as well through balance. The majority of my week is spent in the hustle and bustle of the work-life balance; therefore much of my time with God is often neglected in one area or another. Today, I may get my Bible study done, but did I really pray as much as I would like. Tomorrow, I may repenting for the arguing session with my wife today and completely miss my morning devotion. It seems that the Sabbath day always allows us to get spiritually caught up in the Lord. He takes us and loves on us in our moment of worship and does a work in our hearts that only God can do that restores our relationship with Him. Services at church leave me feeling spiritually, physically, and emotionally refreshed ready to take on the new week ahead. What day we worship and rest should not be our biggest concern, but rather if we are taking this day out of our week. For many of us in public service jobs who are bi-vocational, my Sabbath doesn’t always come on Sunday. Many different weekdays are used as a substitute for my Sabbath to be restored physically, while I receive spiritual restoration and rest on Sundays. Whatever your Sabbath scenario, just make sure that you are honoring it and God. Taking a Sabbath not only refills your spiritual and physical tank. It also affects those around us as well and as a leader within the ministry, we are looked to many times to sustain those who are still new in the faith and those who are hurting internally. We simply cannot meet the demands, needs, and expectations of the church without the spiritual and physical refilling that a Sabbath day provides. No energy drink or coffee exists that is strong enough to equate to a day in the Lord and rest.
Psalm 23 (KJV)23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Exodus 20:9-10 (KJV)9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 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:
Mark 2:27 (KJV)27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: