Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mistaking Sabbath Rest as Optional

Robert Sherman warns against two misunderstandings of Sabbath. Sabbitarianism mistakenly makes the Sabbath itself the object of our allegiance, rather than our subordination to God. This is not the mistake with which I personally struggle. The other mistake is to lose a sense of subordination altogether. Sabbath is not optional; it is a commandment, an obligation. Ouch! This IS where I struggle. "True Sabbath rest is not realized unless it is oriented, indeed, guided to its proper end." Jesus does offer rest, but that rest is not aimless free time. "Sabbath rest is not only a gracious gift, but also a form of discipleship, that is, training in communion." Observing Sabbath rest assists us, perhaps even humbles us, to acknowledge that whatever time we have been given is originally and ultimately God's time and not merely our own. I am afraid that I have too often viewed Sabbath rest as optional. In the words of Dorothy Bass, "we had become so captivated by our work, so impressed by its demands on us and our own indispensability, that [the Sabbath commandment] had simply vanished from our consciousness." This reminds me that first we form our habits, and then our habits form us.

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