Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Missing Piece in our Discussions about Sabbath

In the last few years, I've noticed an increase in the amount of time we spend talking about Sabbath, about our need to regular times of rest in our lives. In a world that never seems to shut off, this has been a refreshing conversation to hear and engage in. It's been encouraging to see people become intentional about beginning to practice it again.

But, as we've done so, I think we've missed a vital part of what Sabbath was intended to be when God designed it for us. I know I missed it for a long time, and didn't even realize I was missing it.

I think this piece we've is the reason why our efforts at creating Sabbath in our lives have fallen short of what we hoped they would bring. I don't think it's because we don't need Sabbath, but because we haven't really understood the fullness of it.

We first see the concept of Sabbath-rest in the story of creation in Genesis when God rested from the work of creation on the seventh day. God intended it to be a day where no work was done, a day of resting from the busy-ness of life. That's the part of it we're getting right in our current discussions of it.

Leviticus 23:2-3 outlines God's plans for Sabbath:
"There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord."
Did you catch the phrase in the middle of the commands about not doing any work and resting?

". . . a day of sacred assembly . . ."

Part of God's plan for Sabbath was for his people to gather together. It wasn't just about resting from work; it was also about gathering together with like-minded people - about community.

Even with all the religious aspect of keeping Sabbath the Jews added that weren't in God's original plan, they still had this part right. They gathered together on the Sabbath.

As I study Sabbath in Scripture and compare it to much of the conversation I'm hearing and participating in about it today, I'm more convinced than ever that we're missing a vital piece. And that missing piece is the reason why our efforts at Sabbath fail completely after a short while, or don't seem to bring all that Scripture talks about.

Along with rest, our Sabbath has to include gathering in community with people, with other Christians. Time together to build relationship, to study Scripture, to pray, to enjoy one another's company. I believe that if we began to include this, our experience of Sabbath will change, and our desire for it will grow.

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