We’re working our way through a series on spiritual growth and yesterday we covered the topic of rest. I think it raised a few eyebrows because it didn’t seem to fit with the other topics: reading the Bible, prayer, worship etc…
Yet as we worked through it, it became clear how foundational rest is, to a healthy and growing spiritual life. Firstly, it is evident that here in Sweden we are living in a culture that despite its many privileges is busy, exhausted and burnt out. There is a problem with how work is conceived and an equally significant problem with rest. When work is work and rest feels like work then that’s an exhausting way to exist. Constantly connected, constantly distracted, constantly on show, with no let-up or off switch this is a culture in desperate need of a reset.
Into this scenario comes the practice of Sabbath. There are all sorts of personal, relational and societal benefits that comes through the regular practice of rest but sabbath as I’ve freshly appreciated is deeply theological.
When understood as gift to receive and not just simply a law to obey, sabbath is transformed into a type of sacrament. Just as we understand death & resurrection through the experience of baptism, or sacrifice and atonement through eating bread & wine, we get grace through sabbath. No earning, no striving, no achieving, no performing. Just rest, receive, enjoy. We enter ultimately into the rest of Jesus and His finished work but we tangibly get to understand it by practising rest on a weekly basis. It is theology lived.
It needs some protecting and guarding, some effort is required to protect restfulness because work and work-like activity so easily intrudes but it is a gift. It is a gift to us to put into practice Jesus’ two great commands. We begin with worship and loving God with all of our heart. resetting and recalibrating our desires and affections. We press into our new identity in Christ. Then our day is an opportunity to love our neighbour. Freed from the demands of work-like activity we can deepen our friendships, reach out to our friends and reach out to our neighbours. Sabbath is a grace-gift.
It’s really made me think. Here was our service from yesterday on the theme of rest.
For other excellent resources on Sabbath check out the following:
And of course Tim Keller is excellent: