God clearly blesses stepping down to take a rest and leads by example in this.
“So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work done in creation (Genesis 2:3).”
One of the deepest aspects of the Sabbath is less about rest, and more about humility. We acknowledge in keeping a Sabbath that we, and our work, are dispensable, that we are only human, not God.
In fact, God’s rest on the seventh day in Genesis may be the first foreshadowing of God becoming fully human in Jesus who, as Paul says, “Being found in human form, he humbled himself (Philippians 2:2-3).”
It is not just those who revere the Scriptures common to Jews, Christians and Muslims that honor the Sabbath. Human beings seem to know it is good to take a break, a vacation, a holiday, a little time off every now and then. It doesn’t matter what we call this or how we think about it: Taking a rest in some way is fulfilling God’s command to remember the Sabbath day, to show some humility. The Latin root for both “human” and “humility” is “humus,” “ground,” or “dirt.”
Of course, Americans — notoriously among the most Christian peoples on earth — are also known for working more and taking less time off than other industrialized countries. One of the great accomplishments of the American labor movement was the creation of the weekend but, just as the unions have been steadily undermined in the last generation, the five-day work week has also weakened as well. Could it be an arrogant assumption that our work is indispensable that drives us in this?
Paradoxically, the Europeans, seen as secularists — as shedding their Christian heritage — are consistently more attentive to the value of rest and refreshment through vacation time and a limited work week than the U.S..
Who, in the end, is obeying God’s command to keep a day of rest (to practice some humility), the supposedly Christian society or the supposedly secular one?
As a Christian who works at fulfilling the Ten Commandments (and admittedly, I find this work indispensible), I am very aware of how difficult this obedience can be. I try to maintain a Sabbath where I keep the computer off all day or turn my attention to something other than work. My resolve slips away awfully easily.
This is why I admire when President Barack Obama, like many presidents past, takes a vacation with his family and friends in a lovely place. I am glad he knows the value of getting away, getting some perspective on the daily routine, the dramas that constantly swirl around him and the serious matters handed to him. I am glad he is obeying the Fourth Commandment. I am glad he understands that, if God finds resting good, then the President of the United States certainly can as well. I wish I had some of his humility.
Janet Edwards | Aug 18, 2011 10:13 PM