Overworked, Overstressed, And Underblessed: Being Like God Is Knowing When To Stop

Hey, are you feeling like you’re at your end?  Sometimes, is it all too much?  I know I feel it; overworked, overstressed and definitely underblessed.  See, I hear you wigging out already.  No, underblessed is not an english word!  I know that, but I bet somebody knows what I’m talking about.  Forget all you grammar nazis anyway!  Look, I’m just saying, sometimes it’s all too much.  Isn’t it?  I propose that the reason we get to our end is because we forget how we began.  The answer has always been there from the beginning, from creation.

The most amazing event of the creation account is the seventh day.  God, systematically created the earth and all that mankind needed in order to sustain life.  God worked!  God also created man and woman and did it all in six days.  Now that’s hard work!  God does not sleep, nor does He slumber.  God works!!!  Yet, the seventh day, yes the blessed seventh day, God rested.

Many of us who practice the Judeo-Christian faith look at the 6th day as the climax of the creation account and I’m not necessarily arguing against that assessment.  Yet, the unintended result of that thinking is an under appreciation for the seventh day.  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The beginning initiates with God working.  Yet, on day seven, God, in all His holy creativeness created rest.  According to Matthew Sleeth, “God doesn’t need to rest after creating the universe because he’s tired.  He rests because he is holy, and everything that God does is holy.  God rests.  God is holy.  Therefore, rest is holy.  It’s simple math.”  As the creation story unfolds, we don’t experience rest until God creates it, participates in it and passes it on to us as a part of the character and image of God.  Again, God not only rested, he created rest, and a holy rest it is.

Sabbath, at its root means to cease, to stop, or to be absent.  Practically, there are two ways to participate in the Sabbath.  You are to rest unto the Lord and you are to celebrate the divinity of the Lord seen in creation.  The rest must be unto the Lord and the celebration must be unto the Lord.  Yet Sabbath itself is not rest, nor is it celebration, it is cessation.  It is an end to things.  In God’s context, Sabbath is a break from creation.  In our context it’s an end to our lives of business and work.  According to Walter Brueggemann, “Sabbath becomes a decisive, concrete, visible way of opting for and aligning with the God of rest.”  It’s a time of total and undivided devotion to the Lord.  It’s an imitation of the Father.  Matthew Sleeth words it this way, “The point is that something very important about the character of God is revealed on the seventh day: God stops.”  Did you hear that, simply stated, being like God is knowing when to stop.  Whew!!!  Mind blown!!!  See, the biblical ceremonial Sabbath was a day, Saturday, and it was the seventh day, the day that the Lord rested from creation of the earth.   Today, due to the freedom we have in Christ, and Jesus’ reassertion of the law, the principle of the Sabbath remains without the ceremonial restrictions.  Today, we practice knowing when to stop.

As I close, God created the world in six days and on the seventh He rested a holy rest!  I for one, want to celebrate and I need to Sabbath!  Matthew Sleeth says,  “Sabbath is like a redeemed holiday (holy day) fifty-two times a year.  It is a time to rejoice and celebrate.”.  I sabbath because I want to be fully human, I want to be like God, and I want to be holy.  One of my favorite verses is Leviticus 20:26, “And you shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine.”  The personal and intimate call of God for me to be close, intimate and holy stirs my soul.  So, if being like God is knowing when to stop, then I want to embody and practice the Sabbath day fully.  Today, I want to practice knowing when to stop.  Walter Brueggemann exclaims, “We used to sing the hymn “Take Time to Be Holy.” But perhaps we should be singing, “Take time to be human.” Or finally, “Take time.” Sabbath is taking time … time to be holy … time to be human”.

Personally, I would add, take time to repent, because God is calling us to be holy.  Failure to have a Sabbath theology is at minimum an evidence of what sin has done to us.  We have to ignore God’s command in the Old Testament and Jesus’ example in the new in order to miss God’s will for us to rest.  We certainly don’t have to see this the same way, but to ignore it altogether, now that’s a “missing of the mark” against your body and your soul.  Let’s be like God, by knowing when to stop.  And of course fam, Be a bridge!!

 

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The Eighth Day: New Beginnings & New Meaning

Do you still get excited for Sunday morning?  Do you??!  Are you overwhelmed by the thought of millions of Christians all over the world getting together to worship the one resurrected King?  Or has your passion grown cold?  The fact is, for most, Sunday morning is still “that day!”  It’s the day of united worship and of family reunion!  Augustine of Hippo wrote in his signature work, City of God, “The Sabbath is brought to a close not by an evening, but by the Lord’s day, as an eighth and eternal day, consecrated by the resurrection of Christ, and also prefiguring the eternal repose not only of the spirit, but also of the body. Then, we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end.”  I’d like for you to pause and consider the beauty of Augustine’s Sunday paradigm.  Is it not awe inspiring?

We find in the resurrection narratives of all four gospels the phrase “the first day of the week.”  1st century and 2nd century Christians saw Sunday as the beginning of the week yes, but they also saw it as the eighth day.  For early believers every Sunday followed the Sunday before, making it a “new beginning,” an “eighth day.”  If it’s not obvious, eight is biblical numerology’s number for new beginnings.  This is why babies were circumcised and given their names on the eighth day.

Early believers also had this intense connection with the past and a simultaneous expectation of the future.  This is not just based on every Sunday being connected to the Sunday prior.  Sunday was also the close of the Sabbath.  So Sunday was not a day of rest as the Sabbath was, but rather a day of tension and breakthrough.  Sunday highlights crucifixion.  So it’s a day of mourning.  Sunday highlights resurrection, so it’s a day of joy!  Marianne H. Micks says “We confused the first day of the week with the Jewish Sabbath and thereby turned to the past instead of to the future. Rightly understood, Sunday is more a day of tension than a day of rest.”  On Sunday,  in one breath of worship, we wrestle with crucifixion and we wrestle with resurrection.

I consider Augustine and I think, what do we contemporarily say about Sunday beyond, oh please, oh please, oh please come to church.  No one knows who, but someone (mainly everybody), said, “Just because you don’t go to church Sunday morning doesn’t mean you forfeit your right of having any help or guidance from God”  This is true but numbing to Sunday’s significance.  Church leaders say things like Joyce Meyer’s famous quote, “Jesus is interested in a relationship with you, not a 45 minute date every Sunday morning. Make Him first in your life.”  Again true, and yet again numbing to Sunday’s significance if taken too far or out of context, which I believe is its normal case.

As I close this thought, I have to ask myself, am I writing this to say, oh please, oh please, oh please come to church?   Absolutely not!   I’m writing this to bridge the concept of the eighth day to your soul, so that if and when you do show up on a Sunday, you understand what your doing!  Augustine called Sunday “The Lord’s Day.”  Why?  He calls it the Lord’s day because that’s the day our Lord got up, defeated sin, the grave and whooped up on death!  Invincible!!!  In a sense, Sunday is the only day that Jesus heard an alarm clock.  For it is, and will be, the only time where he was dead and now is alive.  He resurrected!  See, for the world, Easter is a once a year event but for the believer, resurrection happens every Sunday!  We celebrate “The Lord’s Day,” The day He got up!  We celebrate the Eighth Day, the day of new beginnings.  Every week for the believer we are reminded that life begins fresh and new, opportunity begins fresh and new because today, the Eighth Day, Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that we all have resurrection power!  We all have been made new!  Sunday is a glorious day!  Anything less than overwhelmed misses the mark, misses the maker, misses the magnificent mayhem (full praise) we ought to lavish on a God who would resurrect lives!!!  My dear friends, remember the 1st Day of the week, the eighth day, the eternal day, and together, lets rest and see, see and love, love and praise!

…And yes, of course, Be A Bridge!

Matthew 28:1-3 

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.  And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.”

Let us, together, celebrate!  For every Sunday, after that Sunday, is The Eighth Day.  Glory!

 

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