Summary: Fourth Commandment, Part 2: The Value of Sabbath in a Fast-Paced Society
God’s Day Off
Introduction – Busy, Busy, Busy
A Tacoma, Washington, newspaper carried a story about a basset hound named, “Tattoo.” One evening, Tattoo’s owner accidentally shut the dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive with Tattoo still attached to it. Tattoo didn’t have much of a choice but to run alongside the car.
Thankfully, police officer Terry Filbert noticed a car go by with the little basset hound he described as "picking [up his feet] and putting them down as fast as he could." He chased the car to a stop and rescued the dog, but not before he had reached a speed of 20 to 25 miles per hour. (The dog was fine but asked not to go out for an evening walk for a long time.)
Some of us know how little Tattoo feels. We live our days just “picking up our feet and putting them down as fast as we can.” And there seems no end in sight.
In his medical practice, Dr. Richard Swenson sees a steady stream of hurting people coming into his office. He claims that a majority of them suffer from a chronic ailment which has reached epidemic levels in our country.
Do you know what it is? SARS, maybe? Or AIDS?
The disease Dr. Swenson is concerned about is what he calls a lack of “MARGIN.”
“Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves & our limits. It’s something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.
“As a society, we’ve forgotten what margin is. In the push for progress, margin has been devoured. We’re overloaded.”
Swenson describes the results of this kind of living this way:
“… we feel distressed in ill-defined ways. We are besieged by anxiety, stress and fatigue. Our relationships suffer. We have unexplained aches and pains. The flood of daily events seems beyond our control.”
Does that sound familiar to anybody?
How different does that sound from the words of Jesus:
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. KJV John 10:10
Or as the New Living Bible says:
My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. NLT John 10:10
Last week I said that Christ Himself was the fulfillment of the Sabbath, and so we are not bound to keep the Sabbath in the same way that is laid out in the Old Testament. I said that the Sabbath law gave us a glimpse of grace in the middle of the law.
But does that mean that we just toss the idea of Sabbath out the window? This week, I want us to look more closely at the value of God’s gift of the Sabbath.
Christians hold a wide array of beliefs about the Sabbath.
They range from, “Christ fulfilled it, so we don’t have to think about it AT ALL.”
To: “If you don’t make the Sabbath a day of complete rest (and you’d better stick to Saturday, not Sunday) then you’re probably going to go to hell.”
I really did read an article this week that pretty much said that.
I believe that the truth is somewhere in between.
I believe that the Sabbath is a Gift from God
And it is a gift that is desperately needed in a society that is increasingly showing signs of stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
And far from being immune from those things, Christians are sometimes in worse shape than unbelievers.
A number of years ago, a woman named Jean Fleming shared this in Decision magazine:
A few years ago our neighbors were drawn to us, but when we talked to them about the Lord, their response was, "We couldn’t be Christians; we couldn’t live at your pace." They had been attracted to Christ, but the busyness of our lives had scared them from a commitment.
Would the pace of your life have the same impact on an unbeliever?
Think for a minute about the life of Christ.
Jesus, with all that He did, with all there was to do, never, ever gives the impression of being in a hurry.
Not once do we hear Him say to someone, “NOT NOW! I’m too BUSY!”
Somehow, Jesus was able to live a life of tranquility in the midst of turmoil.
Is it possibly that we could do the same?
I believe that one key – maybe the most important key – to living a life of tranquility in the midst of turmoil is to rediscover God’s gift of the Sabbath
How can we afford Sabbath rest in the midst of the craziness of modern life?
Perhaps the better question is, “How can we afford to IGNORE the Sabbath rest in the midst of the craziness of modern life?”
The world God created has rhythms of work and rest, light and dark