Today we considered Jesus’ words concerning the Sabbath from Luke 6:1-11. If you would like to listen to that message, feel free to click here.
Although the message did not deal specifically with how we should treat the Sabbath in the New Testament church, I know that many are curious about a biblical approach to the Sabbath and so I wanted to post a few short thoughts that might help point us in the right direction. Please do not consider this to be a comprehensive list, but hopefully it can be a concise help to shape the way we approach the Sabbath.
1. Honoring the Sabbath is non-negotiable.
From the beginning of creation, God established a pattern that we see continued through the New Testament as even He took a day for rest & reflection at the end of creation. This pattern of a Sabbath rest is, in my opinion, a non-negotiable. By this, I don’t mean that were one to miss a Sabbath one week they would have somehow broken God’s law and then be subject to judgment/condemnation. Instead I mean that God’s plan for our lives is dependent on a regular pattern of rest, reflection and worship. Don’t neglect this. Take a Sabbath rest.
2. The purpose of a Sabbath is rest & worship.
This is an important point; don’t miss it. Sabbath rest should primarily center around rest & worship. This can be difficult for me. I find myself taking a “day off” only to spend all day at home, but working none-the-less. That’s not Sabbath, that’s just relocating the office. Sabbath is to be a time for rest & worship. However, be cautious that you don’t become legalistic about what this looks like. The Pharisees claimed to reserve the Sabbath for those things, but the regulations that they created turned God’s intended rest & worship time into a time of intense work & stress as one had to diligently work to keep the Sabbath. This is not rest.
3. Sabbath rest won’t Save you, but it just might save you.
Remember that our hope is not in Sabbath, or in any other aspect of God’s law. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone. However, while there is no spiritual salvation built into a Sabbath rest, there may just be a form of physical salvation as God designed our physical bodies for a Sabbath rest. To operate apart from this intent will most generally lead you to physical harm. Enjoy the rest that God intends. This is difficult for me. I don’t like to sit still. However, I have learned that my longevity in life & ministry, as well as my physical upkeep are dependent on my commitment to some form a Sabbath rest. If Jesus could find a way to consistently take rest, I would assume that my schedule is not too important to neglect my rest. Take your Sabbath, don’t feel guilty about it & enjoy the blessings that come with it as a gift of God’s grace to you.
4. Sabbath rest is not dependent on a dictated day.
Finally, be cautious not to become a Pharisee in your practice of the Sabbath. They believed that their hope lay in their ability to strictly adhere to the law. We don’t believe that. We affirm that our hope is in Jesus alone. I firmly believe that there is no dedicated day which one must honor as their Sabbath. Making sure you take a Sabbath, is the key. For me, Sunday is a difficult day to affirm as a Sabbath. While I am thankful for the privilege of worshiping with my Frederick family each Sunday, it is not a day of rest for me. While I worship on Sunday, I usually have to find one other 24 hour period in the week to slow down and allow my body some rest. Truthfully, I’m not very good at this, but I’m trying. Take your Sabbath!