A couple of my posts last week were about rest and our need to slow down in the midst of a world that never stops and doesn’t seem to want us to stop. I thought it might be helpful to offer some suggestions of ways we can start to change.
For today I offer one suggestion, and it has to do with the way we think about this.
So, here it is: we are people whose lives are given shape by the Lord’s Day.
As long as we think that the biblical idea of rest is about the Sabbath Day, a rest at the end of our work, we will never slow down. We read the story of the creation week. We hear that on the seventh day God rested. We think, Good for him. He had just finished making a world. The work was done. Mine isn’t. Or we think that it means rest is an option for us, one that really doesn’t fit into our lives.
I think most of us believe that “sabbath” is not only an odd word, but an odd idea. We can’t square it with the fast-paced world we live in, even if it used to make sense in “olden days.” Slowing down, or stopping for a day, is wasting time.
The Lord’s Day is something different. The early Christians (who were all Jews, and who had always practiced Sabbath) started meeting on Sunday (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2), and called it “the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10). The Lord’s Day is similar to Sabbath (it’s sometimes called “the Christian Sabbath”), but has a different thrust.
On the first day of the week, Jesus burst forth from the chains of death and into resurrection life. The resurrected Jesus is the “firstfruits of those who have died” (1 Cor. 15:20, 23): he is the down payment, the promise, of God’s new creation. Notice in John 20 that Mary mistook Jesus for a gardener–he’s the first of a new kind of person, walking around in the joy of God’s new creation, making something of it as Adam was supposed to with the first creation. He is free from death, free from the sin that he took on his shoulders on the cross. On that first Lord’s day, Jesus called his followers to breakfast on the beach with him. It was time to celebrate!
As Christians, we have been given a new life as well. We are part of God’s new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our lives are shaped by the joy of the resurrection. Everything else in our life ought to flow from that resurrection joy.
We don’t end our week with rest (Sabbath), but rather begin our week with joy (Lord’s Day). The work we do isn’t our way of paying for the privilege to rest, but is the expression of the joy that God has drawn us into.
Sunday is sacred time. It is the day we remember that our lives aren’t shaped by death anymore, but rather by the resurrection.
Some people (nurses, emergency workers, etc.) are in situations where Sundays cannot always be kept aside. But most of us aren’t in that position. We can start to let Sunday be a day of not only worship, but also of fellowship and play with our families and our church family, a day when relationships matter more than requirements, deadlines, or “responsibilities.” A day to eat, a day to laugh, a day to enjoy. Maybe if we started entering into the joy, the rest of our week might start looking a little differently.