Dear friends in Christ,
I lead a Bible study on Tuesday evenings. Not long ago, we looked at the Ten Commandments in Exodus. One of the things we talked about is how we mostly respect and try to keep nine of the commandments. We don’t murder, steal, or lie. Or at least we agree that those things are bad!
But we don’t rest very well, do we? Christians have varied understanding of what Sabbath means and how to keep it. But in the Ten Commandments and elsewhere throughout the Old Testament, it’s pretty clear that God wants his people to rest! There are myriad ways this is lived out in the scriptures. Jesus, too, kept the Sabbath, though he sometimes got into squabbles about how to keep it.
Jesus rested. He kept the Sabbath – though perhaps not the way others expected. God commands rest. Jesus rested. So why is it so hard for us?
In short, our culture promotes the idol of productivity. We live in a world that teaches us that our value comes from what we produce or accomplish. But that’s antithetical to the Gospel. The Gospel teaches us that we are precious regardless of what we produce. The scriptures say that we are worthy of God’s love and redeeming grace.
Taking a day to rest – not to check off a list of errands, but to really rest – is countercultural. When someone asks you what you’re doing today, try answering, “Nothing. I’m resting.” See what kind of reaction you get!
The pandemic has blurred lines of home and work. We all need rest more than ever, and it’s harder than ever to get away. I hope you’ll find a way to rest regularly. God literally made us hardwired to benefit from the gift of rest. When we rest, we can simply enjoy our creation and preservation by almighty God. We can remember what is truly important.
At Forward Movement, we try to model the practices of discipleship. We pray every day at the office. We practice generosity by giving away thousands of free books and booklets every year. We study the Bible together. And we rest.
We rest in several ways. Our lay staff and clergy have taken sabbaticals. Our full-time staff have every other Friday off, yielding a three-day weekend. We work hard while we’re on duty, but we also do our best to give folks time away from work for family time and other activities.
This week, we’ve closed our office. All week long, Monday through Friday, our whole staff is enjoying a week of refreshment and rest after a very stressful few months with pandemic-related issues. I hope you’ll say a word of prayer to give thanks for my hard-working and amazing colleagues at Forward Movement, that they can rest well. We love our work, and that’s why we’re all taking a few days away from it.
How are you doing at rest? How is your church doing? Can you allow your hard-working and probably exhausted staff and clergy to have some real rest time?
Rest. It is God’s command, and God’s commandments are good for us and for our world. Rest.