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This is why you should start keeping Sabbath in 2024!

(Editorial note: This post was adapted from a sermon manuscript with the assistance of AI.)

In our fast-paced world, self-care has become a booming industry, with fitness apps, wearables, and mindfulness practices dominating the conversation. Even athletes are prioritizing rest through "load management," as seen with NBA stars like LeBron James and Steph Curry. Yet, as society increasingly recognizes the need for rest, it's worth noting that the concept of rest is not new. In fact, it's been part of God's plan for humanity from the beginning, known as the Sabbath.

The idea of Sabbath, derived from the Hebrew word "Shabbat," appears in the Bible as a commandment from God. In Exodus 20:8-11, God instructs the Israelites to keep the Sabbath day holy by resting from all work, just as he rested on the seventh day after creation. This day of rest was a unique practice that set Israel apart from other ancient cultures and highlighted their special relationship with God.

However, by the time of Jesus, the religious leaders had added numerous rules to ensure strict Sabbath observance. This is illustrated in Mark 2:23-28, where Jesus and his disciples are criticized by the Pharisees for picking grain on the Sabbath. In response, Jesus reminds them of the story of David eating consecrated bread, emphasizing that human need can take precedence over strict rule-following. Jesus' statement, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath," underscores that Sabbath is a gift meant to benefit humanity, not a burden to be strictly regulated.

In another instance, detailed in Mark 3:1-6, Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath, provoking further outrage from the religious leaders. Jesus challenges them by asking whether it's lawful to do good or evil on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill. By healing the man, Jesus demonstrates that the Sabbath is about promoting goodness and wholeness, helping God's order break back into the world.

These stories highlight a crucial point: Sabbath is a gift of God's goodness. Long before modern society recognized the importance of rest and self-care, God provided a rhythm of work and rest for human flourishing. Yet, how often do we truly embrace this gift? In our technology-driven lives, finding time to rest and disconnect can be challenging. We are constantly bombarded by demands, making it difficult to appreciate the rest God offers.

Jesus' teachings remind us that Sabbath is not merely about following rules but about experiencing God's goodness and grace. It's an opportunity to pause, reflect, and acknowledge our dependence on God. Observing the Sabbath allows us to step back from our daily routines, trust in God's provision, and reconnect with the way of Jesus.

In the context of today's self-care movement, Sabbath offers a deeper, fuller dimension. While self-care focuses on individual well-being, Sabbath invites us to recognize that our ultimate source of rest and renewal comes from God. It's about more than just physical rest; it's about acknowledging God's sovereignty in our lives, and our dependence on him.

In my own family, we've started practicing a form of Sabbath by limiting phone use, watching TV only for family activities, and engaging in restful, enjoyable activities together. What changes might you make to bring a little more Sabbath to your life?

As we navigate the demands of modern life, let's remember that Sabbath is a gift of God's goodness. It's a reminder that we are finite beings in need of rest and that God, out of his abundant blessing , has provided a way for us to experience his peace and presence. Embracing Sabbath helps us find balance, renewal, and ultimately, brings us closer to God. So, let's take a fresh look at self-care through the lens of Sabbath and rediscover the profound gift of rest that God has given us.

(Watch the full sermon from which the blog was taken.)


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