14th January, 2010
The first six months of last year were extremely busy for me along with all of the usual culprits we moved house and organised a trip as a family to Malawi.
Within days of arriving in Malawi I felt myself relaxing, reordering my life and questioning the pace at which I live. The people around me had time, time to talk, time to listen, time to sit, and time to just be.
PICTURE: Mateusz Stachowski (www.sxc.hu)
"Intuitively it seemed to me that rest was required for my spiritual growth, for me to be formed into the image of Christ. Theologically I wanted to explore if this was indeed the case, and if it was what did that mean for all of us living busy lives with little rest?"
It is never wise to romanticise another culture’s way of existence. I knew how hard the women in the village worked just to feed their families and yet they had time. I, on the other hand, had been living ‘time poor’ and now that I had time I was a bit disquieted by it.
While there was plenty to do there were stretches of time with nothing to do. I was faced with my need to do something in order to feel like it was OK to be there. I also recognised that I had been tapping into God sporadically and ‘on the run’.
I began to wonder what impact this was having on my soul, my spirit and on those who surrounded me in my ‘normal’ life in Australia as we all rushed from one task to the next. There was little rest in my life, little time, and yet I both craved this and was a bit intimidated by it. I was also aware that without time to just sit with God I was unable to connect with Him at anything other than an extremely superficial level.
Intuitively it seemed to me that rest was required for my spiritual growth, for me to be formed into the image of Christ. Theologically I wanted to explore if this was indeed the case, and if it was what did that mean for all of us living busy lives with little rest?
Spiritual formation is the process of becoming more Christlike, of being formed into the likeness of Christ. Lawrence O Richards, in the book A Theology of Christian Education, uses the term ‘Christian education’ but describes the same process: “Christian education is concerned with life, and with the growth of eternal life within the human personality, toward likeness to the God who gives it. Christian education is concerned with the progressive transformation of the believer toward the character, values, motives attitudes and understandings of God himself.”
Rest as used in Scripture means to cease, to not work, to desist or leave off. It usually has connotations of refreshment, stillness and often repose. The term rest is strongly linked to Sabbath in Scripture as Sabbath was to be a day of rest for the people of God. As Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, writes in his 1987 book Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity: “Sabbath means quit. Stop. Take a break. Cool it. The word itself has nothing devout or holy in it. It is a word about time, denoting our non-use of it, what we call wasting time.”
Rest and Sabbath
When I originally determined to write on rest I had no intention of writing on Sabbath. Yet theologically these two are synonyms. Sabbath is rest. The words used in scripture have similar meanings though Sabbath is generally used to specify a particular ordinance. It is therefore not possible to talk about rest theologically without speaking of Sabbath, God’s command in the Old Testament to rest.
Rest in Scripture
‘Rest’ and ‘Sabbath’ are frequently referred to in Scripture. The first time rest is referred to is in Genesis and it is of God Himself and the rest He chose on the seventh day after creation (Genesis 2: 2 NIV). Yet it must be noted that this act of rest was not, according to Denise Daniels, a “stay from exhaustion”. In a 2004 article in the Journal of Psychology and Theology, she writes that instead it indicates “God’s autonomous choice not to be subject to his creation but ruler over it.”
In Exodus we find that the Sabbath is the fourth command of the Decalogue (Exodus 20: 8). As in the commandment against idolatry, the Sabbath contains a reason for the giving of this law. Further on in Exodus (31: 12-17) the Sabbath is described in terms of a sign, a covenant between God and His people.
In Deuteronomy the Sabbath is spoken of as a reminder of the freedom that the people of God now have after centuries of slavery. (Deuteuronomy 5: 1-21) It marks an intention that the people of Israel be relieved, according to HHP Dressler, “of their daily occupational work for one day in seven in which they could worship God and refresh their bodies.”
Rest is spoken of numerous times in the Psalms. In Psalm 46: 10 the people of God are implored to “be still and know that I am God” and in Psalm 62 rest in mentioned repeatedly, rest in God and only God. The word here means stillness, silence, cease.
In Mathew 11: 28 Jesus says that He will give rest to those who come to Him. The word rest here literally means to repose and by implication to refresh. The writer of Hebrews speaks of rest again literally translated as repose, a rest we follow God’s example in, a rest that is now linked to salvation. James KA Smith, in Working at Rest, describes this as an invitation to participate in the life of God. He asserts that this is much more than “an abstention from our doing; it is also an entrance into Gods rest.” There is an eternal and future component to the rest referred to in the New Testament but there is also a sense from the writer of Hebrews that is it something we can also enter ‘today’.
Jesus and rest
There is no doubt that the way Jesus viewed the Sabbath was markedly different to many of the religious leaders of the time. Jesus claim that the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2: 27) not only challenged the thinking of the day but teaches us now. As Don Carson asserts, “Jesus is not suggesting that every individual is free to use or abuse the Sabbath as He sees fit but that Sabbath observance in the Old Testament was a beneficial privilege not a mere legal point-an end in itself as the Pharisees seem to think”. Jesus also declared Himself Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12: 8).
Jesus modelled for us practices of Sabbath and rest, according to Marva J Dawn – author of the 1989 book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting, “by his frequent times of solitary and intimate conversation with his Father as well as by his habitual participation in Jewish corporate worship and festival celebrations.” Jesus recognised the need for rest both of a physical kind (Mark 6: 31) and also of a more deeply rooted variety (Matthew 11: 28-30).
Jesus time on earth was limited and He knew that it would be yet He took time to celebrate corporately, sit prayerfully and rest. If He who had so much riding on His mission had the time to rest then how can we believe that we do not?
PART II - FINDING REST?
22nd January, 2010
Why did God require the Sabbath?
The Sabbath was a sign of God’s covenant with the people of Israel and it was a reminder that they were valued by Him. The Deuteronomy passage (5: 1-21) in particular reminds us that God knows our need for rest physically and that we are always more to Him than what we produce. “The moment we begin to see others in terms of what they can do rather than who they are,” says Eugene Peterson. “We mutilate humanity and violate community.”
PICTURE: Cristina Nichitus (www.sxc.hu)
"Whether God requires rest of us or intends rest for us, it would appear that He knows that we need rest."
HHP Dressler asserts in an 1982 article – The Sabbath in the Old Testament, that the Sabbath is motivated by both religious and social concerns: “First of all the Sabbath was introduced to remind the people of Israel of a divine timetable. This timetable, the seven day week, is to be followed on earth. This is followed by a social concern; workers need a period of regular rest, which is provided for everybody-animals, servants and aliens.”
But, as Dressler notes, “the Sabbath is more than an imitation of a divine pattern or an expression of social concern; it is a sign, a “perpetual covenant” between God and His people. It is a spiritual holy day, a day that refreshes both soul and body. The Sabbath was a sign that the Israelites were God’s people set apart and made holy by Him.
Is the Sabbath required today?
As noted earlier, any theological discussion of rest will require analysis of Sabbath. There is much disagreement among authors as to whether God still commands Sabbath. While lengthy discussion of this issue is not the purpose of this article, it is worth noting that there are varying opinions regarding this. This relates to any discussion on rest because of the relationship between rest and Sabbath in Scripture. Some authors believe that we are commanded to rest and others believe that God intends for us to have rest, we need to understand what God would require of us today.
Peterson believes that rest is commanded: “But this is why the Sabbath is commanded and not just suggested for nothing less than a command has the power too intervene in the vicious , accelerating, self-perpetuating cycle of faithless and graceless busyness, the only part of which we are conscious being our good intentions. “
Others believe that God intends for us to have rest but that it is no longer commanded for us to do so. “Everyone including Jesus would agree that human beings need rest, but that observation must not be used to introduce the notion that the mosaic Sabbath was therefore moral law,” writes DA Carson in the article, Jesus and the Sabbath in the Four Gospels.
AT Lincoln, in an article looking at the Sabbath from a Biblical and theological standpoint, states that the “New Testament does reinterpret the category of literal Sabbath rest and this must be given priority in hermeneutical considerations”. He asserts that while the commands to Israel about the Sabbath are no longer binding they do remain instructive about “God’s concern for his people’s physical rest. If God commanded his people to rest every seven days back in the Old Testament and it was considered valuable is it not likely that such regular rest will be just as valuable today?”
Lincoln notes further that when considering the significance of ‘the Lord’s day”, Sunday, problems arise when we relate it to the Old Testament Sabbath, which many do. “In the history of the church many Christians have virtually equated the Lord’s Day with the Sabbath and have therefore based their observance of the day on an application of the regulations of the fourth commandment to the first day of the week.”
He asserts, however, that the Sabbath that the New Testament people of God must observe is to enter God’s rest and thereby cease from ones own works. “Therefore the New Testament people of God discharge their duty of Sabbath observance , according to this writer, by exercising faith…They cease from their own works so that God may work in them.” Whether God requires rest of us or intends rest for us, it would appear that He knows that we need rest. A number of authors use the term Sabbath rest to denote the type of rest that is used in Scripture from this point on in this article, the term Sabbath rest will be used.
The Intention of Sabbath
While there is debate among authors and scholars as to whether Sabbath is required or intended, there is little dispute amongst scholars that Sabbath is needed, that rest is needed. Can this rest simply take any form? Is Sabbath rest different to other rest?
Eugene Peterson argues that Sabbath needs to be understood Biblically not culturally. He asserts that a widespread misunderstanding of Sabbath “trivialises it by designating it a ‘day off’. Sabbath is not a day off …A day off is a bastard Sabbath.” While Peterson acknowledges that days off are beneficial He asserts that these are ‘secularised’ Sabbaths. N Suen, in the 2007 text Sabbath: Making space for God and Life, also asserts that the Sabbath is “not to be confused with a day off. Rather it is a day on. It is the day when we practice being fully alive in the life God created us to live. Enjoying the things God gives us for pleasure.”
"One of the primary intentions of Sabbath is that we begin to recognise the Biblical Genesis rhythm of work and rest."
One of the primary intentions of Sabbath is that we begin to recognise the Biblical Genesis rhythm of work and rest. Peterson talks about the evening-morning sequence in the creation account (Genesis 1:3-31) and the reminder that this account gives us that while we sleep God is already at work and that when we wake we join Him in what He has been doing.
Potentially even more important is the recognition that when we stop working “nothing essential stops”. This rest allows us to recognise that we are not ‘god’. “The Sabbath is the antidote to the pressures of a self-made world which compels us to empire build, hoard and trample for our own survival,” says Suen.
Sabbath gives us the great gift of rest, of not striving, of leaving it all to God and considering who He is and what He has done. It gives us the time to attend to Him. Sabbath also allows us to refocus on the things that are important – accordingt to Suen - “our faith, people we love, play and leisure that keeps us creative and human.”
Dressler, meanwhile, describes the deprivation mentality that arose amongst the Israelites - one that seems also to have infiltrated the thinking of many believers today: “Instead of understanding it to be their privilege to rest on the Sabbath they viewed it as deprivation, instead of recognising their opportunity to commune with God, they saw only inconvenience and hardship. Rather than discovering freedom to worship, they felt in bondage to a law, and instead of grasping the idea of renewal of their covenant relationship to God, they experienced the tragedy of legalism. “
Why turn such a precious gift into deprivation? Why see something so valuable as a burden? Could it be that in our driven world what we fear more than anything is to be left behind? To be less productive than others, if our worth is tied to our productivity and so called success the prices of a days rest is high indeed. Yet if we are to order our lives around God and His values how essential a gift this is.
PART III - FINDING REST?
4th February, 2010
Both scholars who believe that the Sabbath is still mandatory and those who don’t, generally agree that a need for rest is Biblical. While there is much debate as to whether this needs to occur on a Sunday, another given day, or intermittently throughout the week, most authors believe that Sabbath rest is important. A. T. Lincoln asserts that the scriptural principle of Sabbath suggests that we should take regular rest and that this “rest can be any day or extended part of a day, including Sunday".
While I personally agree with Lincoln, I would also assert that it not helpful to get ‘stuck’ on when rest should occur rather that it is essential that it does. As Gordon McDonald has noted in the book Ordering Your Private World, we are in great need of rest. We need rest because we live in a cultural value system that idolises productivity. He states that while he does not believe that productivity is wrong, to idolise it is. “Sabbath rest penetrates to the deepest levels of fatigue in the inner, private world. This fatigue is rarely touched by any of the modern amusements.”
ALWAYS IN A RUSH: What do our busy lifestyles tells us about ourselves - and our relationship with God? PICTURE: James Farmer (www.sxc.hu) Cropped.
"What is essential to Sabbath rest is that nothing is ‘achieved’. Even much of our leisure is still inadvertently about performance. And while these forms of recreation may be important for life balance, they are not Sabbath rest in the truest sense. We have leisure but not rest."
Wayne Muller assertsin the 1999 book
Sabbath Rest: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest that our lack of rest bears consequence on others. “Our lack of rest and reflection are not just a personal affliction. It colours the way we build and sustain community, it dictates the way we respond to suffering and it shapes the ways in which we seek peace and healing in the world."
What is Sabbath rest and what does it require? To cease working, unproductive time.
"The only way to stop our chronic need to work in our own way and with our own sense of hurry is to stop, to cease, to spend time immersed in God’s enfolding devotion to us and in the triune provision of whatever we need in order to do the work God really wants us to do in God’s manner and cadence," writes Marva J Dawn
in Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting .
Yet, as Eugene Peterson has noted, entering into ‘empty non-functional time’ is difficult and requires protection, for ‘we have been taught that time is money.’ It is not helpful to become overly prescriptive about how rest needs to happen. “We don’t have rules for preserving the sanctity of the day, only the commitment that it be set apart for being, not using. Not a day to get anything done but a day to watch and be responsive to what God has done.”
As McDonald asserts there is no need for legalism rather we need to accept this gift: "Frankly, I think some have destroyed the joy of the Sabbath as did the Pharisees by surrounding it with prescriptive laws and precedents. That is not our Sabbath. Our Sabbath was given for us, given to us by God. Its purpose is worship and restoration and whatever it takes to make that happen we will do."
What is essential to Sabbath rest is that nothing is ‘achieved’. Even much of our leisure is still inadvertently about performance. And while these forms of recreation may be important for life balance, they are not Sabbath rest in the truest sense. We have leisure but not rest.
The key components of this unproductive time are prayer and recreation. Peterson asserts that the two reasons given for Sabbath in Exodus and Deuteronomy develop into these parallel Sabbath activities. Dawn, meanwhile, asserts that there is a “tremendously deep need for play” within our society and that freedom to play is a direct result of stopping work". Sabbath rest also enables us to experience both solitude and community. She asserts that this is where a great part of the emotional healing of the Sabbath lies. As we all need “silent spaces, times for reflection and meditation” and we also need “communal interaction”.
Sabbath rest allows us the time to reflect on what God is doing and also on why we do what we do. “True rest is happening when we pause regularly amidst daily routines to sort out the truths and commitments by which we are living," notes McDonald.
Yet such rest is deeply counter-cultural and even deeply disturbing for those who are living by the agenda that says ‘you are what you do’. Sabbath keeping, in this sense, is challenging and counter-cultural. As Richard. Swenson asserts in the 2004 text Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives: "A Biblically authentic and balanced life will include time to be still, to remember, to meditate, and to delight in who He is and what He has made. But a large obstacle stands in the way. There is no glory in rest. No social acclaim. We are never a hero because we rest. We can only be still and wait upon the Lord."
Dawn asserts that we need an “intellectual overhaul weekly-otherwise we get more and more entrapped in the thinking patterns of the world.” She believes that Sabbath enables this as it is time when we cease not only from work but also from the need to accomplish and be productive, from the worry and tension that accompany our modern criterion of efficiency, from our efforts to be in control of our lives as if we were God, from our possessiveness and our enculturation and finally from the humdrum and meaninglessness that result when life is pursued without the Lord at the centre of it all.
"There is a driveness about our existence, a pace, a lack of rest. Even a scorning of rest. There seems to be a deep seated desire, even need, to be productive."
There is the heart of the matter. Sabbath enables us to place God back at the centre and stops us living as though we were ‘god’. It is our weekly or even daily reminder that we are not ‘indispensable” that Yahweh is indeed God. When we give up the busyness that is the characteristic of so many lives we begin to see, according to Dawn, “ourselves as God's saints called to an alternative lifestyle dwelling in grace and responding with non-frenzied ease.” We can begin to view time as a gift rather than just an exploitable commodity. We can also begin to recognise ourselves as dearly beloved children of the most high God, loved for who we are not just what we do.
“This is what we celebrate on the Sabbath day," writes Dawn. "We join the generations of believers - going all the way back to God’s people the Jews - who set aside a day to remember that we are precious and honoured in God’s sight and loved, profoundly loved, not because of what we produce.” Which in turn allows us to love others in the same grace filled way or, according again to Dawn, “To celebrate God’s love on our Sabbaths also transforms us so that we can more deeply value others in the same way.”
Most of the people I know both within and outside of church have very full lives, busy lives. Why are our lives so busy? As Swenson asserts, we have more time saving devices that at any other time in history yet those in the West seem to be more ‘time poor’ than at any other time in history. There is a driveness about our existence, a pace, a lack of rest. Even a scorning of rest. There seems to be a deep seated desire, even need, to be productive. What is concerning about this is that it has become tied to our worth; many of us have believed the world when it has told us that we are as valuable as what we can produce and achieve.
There is a strong message in our consumerist culture that in order to be successful we must be productive and as Muller says, this means that we must have ‘more’: "In our drive for success we are seduced by the promises of more: more money, more recognition, more satisfaction, more love, and more information, more influence more possessions, more security. Even when our intentions are noble and our efforts sincere - even when we dedicate our lives to the service of others - the corrosive pressure of frantic over-activity can nonetheless cause suffering in ourselves and others."
Many of us have so bought into this value system that we are almost proud of being so busy, of having no time to rest, play and pray. Muller again: "We say this to each other with no small degree of pride, as if our exhaustion were a trophy, our ability to withstand stress a mark of real character. The busier we are the more important we seem to ourselves and we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family to be unable to find time for the sunset, to whiz through our obligations without time for a single, mindful breath, this has become a model of a successful life."
This need to accomplish leads to what Dawn describes as an “a terrible frenzy about time". Peterson quotes one critic as noting that “most of us have taxi-meters for brains, ticking away, translating time and space into money.” Such busyness, such emphasis on productivity and success flies in the face of the ‘unproductive time’ that God calls us to in Sabbath rest.
Peterson, when asked in an interview how busyness affects our spiritual lives, asserted that “busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s actions. It is taking charge.” Maybe this taking charge, this desire to be in control, productive, successful, points to a deep-seated concern spiritually.
"Our busyness prevents us from attending to God, allowing Him to set the agenda, and having our lives disrupted by His priorities."
Peterson goes on to state that “It is an either/or situation. Busyness has nothing to do with activity, and spirituality is not the absence of activity. You either enter into what God is doing or you don’t. A busy person is a lazy person because they are not doing what they are supposed to do.” What are we supposed to be doing? Allowing God to be central in our lives, allowing, God to be God.
Augustine’s pondering on His own condition is possibly the most confronting of all when read with the frenzied pace of the West in mind: "I wonder if I immerse myself in a hundred and one Christian projects precisely in order to forget that I don’t desire God all that much. Sometimes all our work and busyness undertaken with the passion of a ‘vocation’ is just a cover for the fact that we prefer the comfort of ministry pursuits instead of the disruptive encounter with the Triune God. Our mundane busyness can be a symptom of a spiritual restlessness-a symptom of our own disbelief and disobedience which would prevent us from entering God’s rest."
Our busyness prevents us from attending to God, allowing Him to set the agenda, and having our lives disrupted by His priorities.
PART IV - FINDING REST?
20th February, 2010
Rest and spiritual formation
Author Calvin Miller stresses that intimacy with God cannot be rushed, that we cannot enjoy the presence of God if we are always looking at our watches. If spiritual formation is being made into the likeness of Christ, being transformed, then this will require intimacy with God. There are no short cuts to intimacy either in human relationships or in relationship with Yahweh; it takes time, unhurried time, focused, deliberate time. The kind of time that Sabbath rest creates and the busyness of our world destroys. “Time itself must be surrendered to the pursuit of the depths of God," notes Miller. "God does not wear a watch. His unthinkable glory is learned only in our time consuming communion with Him.”
TIME OUT: Spending time 'resting with Christ' helps us to become more like Him.. PICTURE: Rodolfo Belloli (www.sxc.hu)
"Because Sabbath rest requires an abstinence of activity that is ‘productive’ it is a reminder of who is truly in charge, who is actually ‘god’."
God at the centre
Sabbath rest enables a re-assessing, a re-ordering of life around the priorities of God. As stated earlier it allows us to step away from the mindset of the world and seek after the King and His values. As James KA Smith has asserted in his book Working At Rest, entering God's rest is not therefore a matter of doing nothing, “it is a matter of desiring the right things, and then ordering our activities in light of that desire. When our desire is ordered to and by the love and grace of God, our autonomous desires to make our mark begin to look empty, even silly.”
Marva J. Dawn sums it up this way: "Our spirit becomes more unified when our relationship with God is the centre and focus of our lives and all other aspects find their proper priorities in the worship of the Lord. Our bodies are sounder when we enjoy a rhythm of fasting and feasting, when we truly rest by giving up the burden of possessions, when we have time for naps. Our souls are more complete when we can get in touch with our deepest emotions, our true sexuality, our creativity, our senses of delight and play. Our minds become more robust when the narratives or our heritage as Gods people remind us of our redemption and when, as a result, our attitudes are made more wholesome and our freedom leads to the generating of new ideas."
Because Sabbath rest requires an abstinence of activity that is ‘productive’ it is a reminder of who is truly in charge, who is actually ‘god’. As Dawn has noted in our culture that places enormous importance on work productivity our “weekly ceasing reminds us that the value of work lies not in itself nor in the worth it gives us but in the worship of God that takes place in it.” This requires a degree of trust as Smith has noted. He has asserted that to choose not to enter Sabbath rest “would be to refuse this gift of rest by retaining our own frenzied confidence in human effort-trusting in our own labours rather than God’s grace.” It is often during the times when we choose to not ‘do very much’ that other important things have the time and space to take place. “I forget that more important things are happening in me as God works to change my character and transform me into His likeness," writes Dawn. "If I am worried about my productivity I usually miss the lessons He is allowing me to experience so that I can be changed.” She asserts that when we rest it enables “God to be God” in our lives.
Time to attend to God
If we are to become like Christ, then we must take time to be with Him. As Miller has noted: “The clock belongs to Christ, and each tick summons us to surrender every second to the glory of His name.” Yet all too often our experience is different to this as we find ourselves as, according again to Miller, “a hassled fellowship of disciples who serve the clock and call it God.” To hear from God, to make Him our centre requires our time, unhurried time.
Eugene Peterson stresses the need for this and asserts that we need to "respond with reverent prayer to the demand of God for our attention, to listen to Him, to take Him seriously in the actual circumstances of this calendar day, at this street address... This is a kind of attentiveness that we know from instruction and experience can be entered into only slowly and deliberately. There is a large, leisurely centre to existence where God must be deeply pondered, lovingly believed. This demand is not for prayer on the run or prayer on request. It means entering realms of spirit where wonder and adoration have space to develop, where play and delight have time to flourish."
Only Sabbath rest can create this time, this time cannot take place on the run. As Peterson has noted, Sabbath rest quiets “the internal noise so we hear the still small voice of our Lord.” He goes on to say that “At regular intervals we all need to quit our work and contemplate his work, quit talking to each other and listen to Him. God knows we need this and has given us a means in Sabbath-a day for praying and playing, simply enjoying what He is.”
The recognition that Sabbath rest gives us of our ‘place’ in the world as dearly beloved children who are not in fact ‘god’ and the time it gives us to hear from Yahweh lead to our transformation. They give us a Kingdom perspective and enable us to disentangle from the values of the world and embrace the values of the Kingdom.
"To be formed in the likeness of Christ requires time, unhurried time, the type of time that Sabbath rest gives us."
“Sabbath: uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so that we can see what God has been and is doing," writes Peterson. "If we do not regularly quit work for one day a week we take ourselves far too seriously. The moral sweat pouring off our brows blinds us to the primal action of God in and around us."
Dawn has called Sabbath rest holy time as it allows us to focus on God without distraction. This allows the Spirit to come with and renew us, transforming our thinking “from the inside into new patterns in line with the perfect wisdom of God.” She has noted that this sets us free and allows us to be more fully the people He has made us to be. “The gift of Sabbath rest gives us time “to ponder God’s truth instead of our work, to notice Gods creations of beauty and to relish Gods goodness in our closest relationships. After a beautiful Sabbath of intellectual rest we will know ourselves more truly and can pursue paths more closely attuned to Gods own righteousness.” Sabbath rest transforms us.
Rest is an essential part of spiritual formation. To be formed in the likeness of Christ requires time, unhurried time, the type of time that Sabbath rest gives us. Sabbath rest enables this formation to take place by allowing us to step back from busy, performance orientated lives and place God back at the centre. It gives us the time and space to attend to God and what He is doing, to focus of His priorities and the people He has placed in our lives. Sabbath rest characterised by prayer and playfulness enables Yahweh to transform our lives and firmly acknowledges that He is God and we are not.
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Willard. D. (2002). Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.
Zodhiates. S. (1984). The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible: King James Version. Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Bible Publishers.
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