I am still unpacking some of the lessons I learned during my trip to Pittsburgh last month.  I have written previously about the conference I attended at Pittsburgh Seminary.  One of the presenters was Pete Scazzero pastor of of New Life Fellowship in Queens, NYC.  One of the things he spoke about was Sabbath rest.

In his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality he writes about the "Top Ten Symptoms of Unhealthy Spirituality."  One of the symptoms is "Doing for God instead of being with God."  One of the obvious results of this symptom is not taking a Sabbath day of rest.  One of the Ten Commandments is to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 

Shakertown Outdoors June, 2009 The Christian tradition has understood this day of rest to be the first day of the week in honor of the Resurrection of our Lord on the first day of the week, Easter Sunday.  Keeping-Sabbath–as I understand it–is not a legalistic requirement as much as it is finding our strength and purpose in God.  It is also simply enjoying God's presence in our lives.  In the Jewish tradition, the beginning of the day is evening at sundown.  That reminds us that we begin the day by resting in God and living out the rest of the day in the strength of God.  A whole day of rest and worship provides an important opportunity each week to enjoy God's presence.

Pete Scazzero says that when we don't rest in God we become human doings not human beings. He writes, "Our experiential sense of worth and validation gradually shifts from God's unconditional love for us in Christ to our works and performance.  The joy of Christ gradually disappears.  Our activity for God can only properly flow from a life with God."  (Page 32)

Desmond Tutu in his book, God Has a Dream, writes of the God centered life in this way:  "The Bible places human beings at the center of the divine enterprise as creatures of infinite worth and dignity independent of our work, our ability or our success.  We are each created by God, like God, for God.  St. Augustine, referring to this God capacity, this God hunger, this striving after transcendence, says of God, 'Thou has made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee."

To observe Sabbath is not to believe that human effort has no value, rather it is to find our value in God and to believe that all work can be done for God's honor and glory.  We do not earn God's favor. We can't earn God's favor, because God already loves us unconditionally.  We are creatures of infinite worth and dignity independent of our work, our ability or our success.  The grace of Jesus Christ is for us and our salvation.  It is a free gift of God.  

The inability to rest is a sign that we haven't fully appropriated the grace of Jesus Christ.  The refusal to keep Sabbath is to deny ourselves joy and the fullness of God's love.  Keeping Sabbath is one of God's many gifts to us.  Sundays are usually a busy day for me as a pastor, so for many years I have been in the habit of taking Mondays as my Sabbath day of rest.  In Romans 14:5-7, we read that what day we keep Sabbath isn't as important as finding our rest in God, for God.  

Jesus taught us that Sabbath was made for people not the other way around.  Sabbath is a gift. In our society, in our culture, it's not easy to keep Sabbath.  There can be many intrusions on a day of rest. Do you keep Sabbath?  What are the challenges you face while trying to keep Sabbath?  Do you enjoy a Sabbath day of rest?  Feel free to comment below if you would like to share your stories of Sabbath keeping.