“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.” Exodus 20:8-10.
I’ve always said that if we treated the rest of the commandments like we treat the Sabbath, our Baptist churches would be uninsurable! If we treated stealing like we treat the Sabbath, we’d need armed guards taking up the offering. If we treated murder like we treat the Sabbath, some of our more unsavoury church meetings would end with the emergency services in attendance. Let’s not even talk about adultery, or covetousness. Needless to say the code of conduct might have to be re-written if we treated these commandments like we treat Sabbath.
As I’ve moved around over the past four and a half years I must say the single most disturbing thing that I’ve witnessed in the people of God in our Baptist churches, is our endless REST-LESS-ness. It seems that of all the things we seem to be integrating from the world around us, busyness and hyperactivity appear to be at the top of the charts. We seem to have bought into the idea that busyness or lack of rest and stillness = effectiveness. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The oft quoted Psalm 46:10 comes to mind: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." I often wonder if the opposite is true? Be busy and REST-LESS and DON’T KNOW that I am God. And I will NOT be exalted among the nations, I will NOT be exalted in the earth?
If REST-LESS-ness were a disease, then I’d suggest that the solid and steady practice of Sabbath might go a long way towards being the cure. If Jesus suggested that "… the Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath (Mark 2:27),” then I think we can assume that he was still in favour of it.
Perhaps the question we need to ask in these times is … are we?
I’m not saying that we should picket our local shopping centres and try to shut down Sunday trading; that’s a symptom. I’m simply inviting people who follow Jesus to think a bit about the idea. And perhaps even plan for its implementation in their lives.
Three questions for further reflection:
1. What does it look like for you to respond to the invitation of Sabbath and take a day to be still and rest as unto God?
2. When was the last time you did that?
3. What’s stopping you from locking it into your diary right now?
Rev Chris Danes is finished up as the BUV’s Youth Coordinator in May, and will finish up as the Interim Regional Minister for the Eastern Region on Friday 29th June. Kylie Butler has taken on a pastoral support role for youth pastors, and can be contacted on: email@example.com