November 6, 2012

A Community Effort

I have talked with men who have said that it [Sabbath] has been abrogated, but they have never been able to point to any place in the Bible where God repealed it. When Christ was on earth, He did nothing to set it aside; He freed it from the traces under which the scribes and Pharisees had put it, and gave it its true place. 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'  It is just as practicable and as necessary for men today as it ever was-in fact, more than ever, because we live in such an intense age. The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. The fourth commandment begins with the word remember, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding? ~D.L. Moody
Christians, including me, have a tendency to just blatantly ignore or belittle Sabbath. Somewhere in our minds, for one reason or another, we just don't treat that commandment as a commandment; it's more like a suggestion. Jen Hatmaker described our attitudes perfectly: "Ah, Sabbath. How cute and archaic. It's adorable how the Hebrews obeyed that (7)." Do we not do this? The answer is "yes." It's hard to find people who practice Sabbath, and who do it well.

Maybe that's a problem, the people. Not singular persons, but people... plural. Did you catch it? I find that one of the reasons I struggle with this idea of rest is because I don't have the support system to help me enjoy or to keep me accountable to it. While there are aspects of Sabbath that are personal and between God and oneself, Sabbath truly is a community effort.
My neglect of the sabbath doesn't just affect me but my entire household, my extended community. The pace we keep has jeopardized our health and happiness, our worship and rhythms. We belong to a culture that can't catch it's breath; rather we refuse to catch our breath. ~Jen Hatmaker in 7
I don't have to have visible proof to know this is true. I feel it. When I rest with others who are resting, I'm filled and refreshed. When I try to rest whilst others work, it births guilt and added stress in me. People are addicted to busyness. We sacrifice time savoring Christ's presence in our lives, and we sacrifice being genuinely and fully connected to one another. Relationships suffer, and then we wonder why we don't experience genuine community. Community takes time, effort, and relational work. One doesn't simply flip a switch and suddenly their walking deeply with others. And because we don't truly value time as God intended it (something will talk about later), we cannot slow down to invest in such a community.

One of the greatest lessons I learned about Sabbath came about in the most random of conversations with an Orthodox Jewish girl. She started sharing about her family and faith community's traditions surrounding the Shabbat. As she was speaking it became so evident that they truly knew how to value their time and their relationships, and it wasn't due to what I was expecting: Investment. They're able to invest in one another because they had a right mindset of how to inhabit, not spend (there's a difference), time. One of the greatest ironies of Sabbath (a time for rest) is that one has to plan for it. We're plan and prepare in order to enter fully and enjoy worship and one another at the right time. It's an established rhythm.
Originally, the Sabbath had to be planned for, food gathered a day in advanced. It wasn't handed to the Hebrews on a silver platter. This principle remains. I still have to plan for the Sabbath... ~Jen Hatmaker in 7


  1. It's hard to find people who practice Sabbath, and who do it well.
    INDEED. Loved your thoughts. We're so easily crippled by the age-old Galatians trap of falling back into law and not resting in Christ alone, making it hard to be people of rest.

    Unfortunately, we can overcompensate on either side--we can either observe a day as law, or we can throw it out altogether. I tend to be in the cautious group who tries TOO hard not to fall back into law. But I need to remember that balance is always attainable in Christ, and if I'm truly resting in Him and His finished work, that rest isn't in taboo when I "plan" a day to rest and commune with Him, family & believers (love how you described that "natural" rhythm/communion, too).

    Don't know if I'm totally off, but I truly want to be one who learns to "do Sabbath"--rest in Jesus--and do it well. Amen.

  2. LOVE this Natalie:) Thank you for this great series much good stuff to think about! love Katie

  3. "Sabbath truly is a community effort"
    wow, I never thought of this.
    This is really good.

    Community DOES take time, effort and relational work. The introverted side of me doesn't want to partake in it, but it's so vital to one's personal growth.

    thank you for this!

  4. love this natalie! i neglect the Sabbath far too often...and then i wonder why i am stressed and running on empty! we'd be able to pour so much more into others if we actually rested the way God intends.


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