It's one of the Bible's most well-known commandments. So why aren't we following it?
I really loved an article I read recently talking about the most ignored commandment from the Bible. You would think it was something like, "Thou shalt not steal," or "Honor thy father and mother." But, no the most ignored commandment is REST.
The word Rest is used in the New Testament over 50 times. So, it must have been a pretty important principle that Jesus wanted us to understand and practice. Sadly, we have become so busy that we never slow down. We never, "Be still."
This article from Relevant Magazine by Nancy Sleeth, the author of Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life, is quite eye-opening. I hope it encourages you to slow down, be still and listen. Let The Shepherd make you lie down in green pastures and lead you beside still waters.
Now For The Article : The Most Ignored Commandment
A recent poll of 2,000 pastors in North Carolina revealed that less than 10 percent are keeping a regular Sabbath.
Think about this for a moment. If 90 percent of pastors announced from the pulpit that murder (or stealing, or adultery) is OK, don’t you think it might raise a few eyebrows in the pews, let alone the press?
It’s true: Jesus freed us from temple and ritual laws, but nowhere does He say we get a pass on moral laws. Of all the moral laws, Christ is especially clear that we must honor the Top Ten.
In fact, he ups the ante: if the law says don’t commit murder, Jesus says don’t get mad at the person who just sent you a snarky text. If the law says don’t commit adultery, Jesus says don’t even surf the Internet looking for racy pictures.
The Ten Commandments are engraved twice in the walls of the Supreme Court building. Why? Even for people who don’t believe in God, they serve as the bedrock of morality. The Ten Commandments help keep civilization civilized.
For those of us who believe in the Creator, the Ten Commandments are gifts from the very hand of God. The first three commandments are about our relationship with the Lord. The last six are about our relationship with [pullquote type="right"]Once a week, God walks out on the Sabbath bridge to meet us. But most of us are no-shows; we unapologetically stand up the Creator of the universe, week after week.[/pullquote]humanity. The fourth commandment is a bridge: it connects heaven and earth, God and people.
Once a week, God walks out on the Sabbath bridge to meet us. But most of us are no-shows; we unapologetically stand up the Creator of the universe, week after week.
Our generation is the first in 2,000 years of church history that is on the go 24/7. But this experiment in Sabbath-less living is taking a huge toll. It’s called time debt. We overcommit. We multi-task. We stay so busy we don’t have enough time for relationships with family and friends, let alone God.
The result? Nonstop stress. When I asked my husband Matthew, a physician, about the physical consequences of stress, he gave me a mini-lesson on the endocrine system. If your body never knows when the next Stop Day is coming, it sends out stress hormones. These hormones are commonly known as the fight or flight response. If you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction, a shot of adrenaline can save your life. A few hours later, however, you will feel utterly exhausted, like you’ve been run over by a truck.
Matthew went on to explain that when we are under stress long-term, our bodies produce another stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol production contributes to a host of medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, acne, depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, digestive problems, and memory and concentration impairment. The bottom line: constant stress doesn’t just make us tired and grumpy; it makes us ill.
So if you’re ready to start attempting to keep a Sabbath, here are a few ways you can start:
Block off Sabbath Time on Your Calendar.Here’s a simple truth: It won’t happen unless you schedule it. For most people, Sabbath is celebrated on Sunday. For church leaders, hospital workers and people who provide emergency services, Sabbath might have to be moved to another day of the week.
Because our ministry requires frequent travel, I use Google calendar to schedule our Sabbaths at least four months in advance. This lets our staff know when we will be offline and allows them to plan accordingly.
Prepare Joyfully.In today’s 24/7 world, Sabbath-keeping is countercultural; it doesn’t just happen by default. If you long to lay down your heavy burdens, you’ll need to be more intentional about your time the other six days of the week.
On Sabbath eve, I clean out my email inbox, finish chores and run errands with an almost giddy joy. I also plan ahead for holy fun, seeking out new places for a hike or picking out a book to read aloud with my husband.
Figure Out What “Work” is for You.Scholars have argued for centuries about how to define rest. Here’s a simple definition: decide what work is for you and don’t do it on your Sabbath.
For people engaged in sedentary work during the week, puttering around in the garden on the Sabbath might be restful. For people who do manual labor, holy rest might mean taking a nap.
Pray and Play.
Eugene Peterson, one of my theological heroes and author of The Message, once said that there are only two rules for Sabbath: play and pray. Now in his eighth decade of life, Peterson also believes Sabbath-keeping is the best thing he ever did for his marriage, his children and his ministry.
My family and I have been keeping the Sabbath for the past dozen years, and all I can say is “Amen!” Now grown, our kids kept the Sabbath throughout high school, college, medical school and now residency. The Sabbath gave them something almost none of their peers had, even while attending a Christian college: a day off. No homework, no chores, no shopping—just time with family, friends and God.
Find a Sabbath Buddy.My husband I run a nonprofit together. We both have workaholic tendencies. We both love our work. This is a dangerous combination. Yet no matter what deadlines are looming, my husband and I do not work on the Sabbath. When one of us begins to “talk shop,” we gently remind each other to give it a rest.
Sabbath is best practiced in community. So find a Sabbath buddy. Help each other to create a Sabbath plan: what you’ll need to do to get ready, how you’ll celebrate, and what you’ll avoid on your day of rest. Then check in and encourage each other.
Giving Up Busyness for Lent.Here’s my challenge for you: this Lent season, engage in a Sabbath experiment. Resolve to spend one day in seven resting and restoring. Praying and playing. Being still and knowing God.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did and that it sparked a desire in you to slow down. Better yet I hope it begins a debate in your home about how better to Rest. I'm not talking about lying around flipping through 999 channels. I'm talking about life-giving, wisdom-getting, fruit-producing REST. Rest in the Lord.
That's what Jesus came to be for us and give to us, our Sabbath, our Rest. We can stop striving from our works and Rest in the finished work that He has already done.
What is one thing that you can do to establish more Rest in your life?