We live in a world that always needs to be doing something. We get lost in our tasks, duties, and activities, without finding time to rest. In fact, rest seems to be one of the most frightening words for some. Heaven forbid someone takes time to rest because we would certainly not be accomplishing anything. We live in a culture of productivity and performance, which preaches that there is no such thing as slowing down. Many I know even feel guilty when they take a moment to relax and unwind. So is it wrong for someone to dedicate an entire day to rest and forget about “getting things done on my to-do list?” No. It is absolutely not wrong and in fact, it is the exact opposite of wrong. Those who think that rest is not a good thing to partake in, or is a counterproductive behavior, surely find serious importance in their to-do list rather than God’s to-do list.
God created the world in seven days. Each day was significant in its own way. On day one, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1-5). On the second day, God created an expanse, which separated the waters and the expanse from one another (Genesis 1:7-8). On the third day, God created land and vegetation (Genesis 1:9-13). On the fourth day, God created the stars, the moon, and the sun (Genesis 1:14-19). On the fifth day, God created sea creatures and the birds in the air (Genesis 1:20-23). On the sixth day, God created something very unique. He created living creatures according to their kind (Genesis 1:24). Afterwards God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26-27) and pronounced all things good (Genesis 1:31). We then flip to chapter two in the creation narrative and notice something completely different from what God had been doing the previous six days. God rested (Genesis 2:2). After all of His work, God rested. Simple as that. Yes. God Himself took a pause from what He was doing, to rest and enjoy.
So what does this mean for us? Should we be less productive in our everyday lives? Should we just simply forget what we “need” to accomplish and worry and stress about whether or not “it” will get done? What should we do?
It seems like our culture has produced a mentality that preaches, “do.” And if you’re not doing something, you’re not getting anywhere. Personally, I believe that this is a lie which has become a way of life for many. The irony behind all of this is that Christians themselves, seem to be no different. Christians have lost the sense and meaning behind “Sabbath rest.” The idea of not being able to accomplish something with our time, seems to be an unproductive waste. Let us analyze the importance of rest and see if we truly have confidence in what God accomplishes.
Rest, I believe, is a way of refocusing. Refocusing can be the most productive thing that an individual can do. What I mean by this, is that in the midst of doing so much on a regular basis, our brains are drained and our bodies experience exhaustion. And refocusing can help us get ourselves back together again, so that we may continue the daily routine.
Everyone needs rest. And Christians in particular, should be the prime example of rest. This is because of who Christ is for the Christian. Jesus is Lord. He is Savior. And He has accomplished all things on our behalf. Did you catch that? He has accomplished ALL THINGS on our behalf. In Christ, all is finished. What if we actually approached all things in life with the gospel in perspective? What if restmeant that on a weekly basis, we took the time to refocus? It doesn’t matter the day that we set aside, all we have to do is develop a posture that recognizes the beauty of what Christ Jesus has done for us. In this posture, we develop a true comprehension of rest.
After the disciples spent much of their time preaching, healing, and casting out demons, Jesus approached them and said, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Jesus is aware of the importance of rest, encouraging His fellow disciples to make sure they take time to do so as well. It is the very gospel of the incarnate Christ that allows us to put value in rest. Jesus came to fulfill all things. Jesus came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). But check this out, in His fulfillment of all things, Jesus also fulfilled the Sabbath itself. We don’t “have to” take Sabbath rest, yet Sabbath rest is a result of the gospels work in our lives. Rest becomes a spiritual discipline in our lives because the gospel has transformed us to embrace rest.
This spiritual discipline of rest is meant to deepen union with Christ. In rest, one forfeits the deeds of everyday life for the sake of the gospel. We forfeit getting “things done” for our sake, while embracing what Christ has done for us. Let’s set aside the everyday rhythms of life, so that we can give the Lord His day, His hour, His minute, so that we may be nourished by His gospel, allowing the fruits of the gospel to dwell within us.