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Is observing the Sabbath really that important?

Micaël Gelin, an FPC team member, has been contemplating rest and the Sabbath, and how they apply to this particular moment in his life. You may have asked yourself similar questions. Micaël invites you to explore with him as he reflects on the Sabbath, its principles, and how to consider it in everyday life, depending on who you are.

While I was interning in Verdun, a friend made a small remark to me one Sunday, at the end of the day… which made me really stop and think! Nearly every Sunday afternoon we spent time in a small group at his family’s home. While their living room was full of people, I personally was absorbed by my computer screen, surfing the internet for content and information related to my internship.

She asked me, “Mic, when do you think you’ll start your Sabbath? When do you actually enter into your Sabbath?”

Some people might have answered that they began their Sabbath on Saturday or even Friday evening, by taking a break from their regular activity. But for me… I didn’t know how to answer.

What are we talking about when we reference the Sabbath? Does this commandment still apply to us today? What could this time bring to me? Besides, it doesn’t seem so simple when it’s applied to my life as a paster and church-planter. For example, Sunday is generally the day of rest but that is impossible for me to do. In fact, I’ve been seriously contemplating this. What really makes up the essence of the Sabbath? I want to answer with what we already understand about it but also include the context of who a person is and what they do for a living.

I suggest we look at some biblical principles together so as to offer some practical tips.

Some principles and definitions in order to better understand the Sabbath:

⇒ An invitation to be with Him

I was inspired by some biblical texts (Genesis 1:31-2:3, Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15). You can take the time to read these before continuing here if you wish.

Already, after re-reading Genesis, I was struck by God’s attitude after creating the world.

God is completely satisfied with the work he has done, much like an artist contemplating his creation. He marvels, rejoices, because the results align perfectly with his initial desire. That is why everything is very good, according to Him. Creation is the successful expression of what he wanted in his heart.

This divine rests places God both at the center and at the end of his creation.

But, let’s face it, there is also an invitation here to identify and project oneself onto the creation story.

If God interrupts his work to rest, we are implicitly invited to do the same since we are “created in the image of God, in his likeness.”

Yes, this is the great message of the Sabbath: God made us for Him!

⇒ A rhythm that allows you to flourish

Did you notice the proposed rhythm of life in Genesis? Let’s revisit this verse: And there was evening and there was morning – the second day, etc. Yes, the rhythm and order that God imposes allows life to flourish!

The bible suggests suggests a new rhythm of life that promotes our development and invites us to accept our limits, to take time apart, but also to set an example for those around us.

It is interesting to successfully stop, and to do this regularly, and it requires an act of faith to no longer “do” but just “be.” It can be intimidating, one can feel vulnerable, but it is also an opportunity to draw closer to God.

⇒ But what is the definition of Sabbath?

I would like to share with you a definition by Peter Scazzero that sums up these few principles that I described above: “The biblical Sabbath is a period of twenty-four hours during which we 1) stop working, 2) enjoy the rest, 3) have fun, and 4) contemplate God.” [1]

Four concepts to live out this time of rest

#1 Stop working!

It’s not a question of stopping all activity but of taking a break from what constitutes as your greatest responsibility.

For me, that means putting aside my activities in ministry, and I identify well with what Peter Scazzero says: “When I stop work to live out the Sabbath, I distance myself from everything there is to do as a pastor, as well as the preparation of any sermons or writing. I purposely do not answer my emails, pick up phone calls, finish sermons, write, or complete leadership tasks. … I avoid social media… I also give up practical, day-to-day tasks such as paying bills, doing laundry, going on errands, grocery shopping, and cleaning the house.

⇒ Your situation is maybe different from mine and Peter’s, so you can ask yourself: How do I unplug? What’s stopping me from doing this?

#2 Enjoy the rest!

There is the idea here to carry out activities that renew us and restore our energy.

⇒ Are there things you could do at a time outside this period of rest?

#3 Have fun!

It’s about rejoicing with God in all that he gives us that is good and beautiful to live in this world, and (by being centered in Him) appreciating the true value of the activities, places, and people surrounding us!

I encourage you to make a list of things you like and even plan some activities.

#4 Spend time with God!

It’s about having a heart-to-heart with God without any distractions and letting him speak to you.

You could, for example, review your week with him and identify meaningful moments.

I hope this article helps you better understand the Sabbath and how you can enjoy it. If you have any questions, you can put them in the comments.

Micaël Gelin

Col 2.16-23; Rm 14.13-21; Mc 2.23 – 3.6 ; Lc 13.10-17, 14.1-6 ; Jn 5.1-23, 7.14-24.
Peter Scazzero, Devenir un leader émotionnellement sain, Charols, Excelsis (coll. Spiritualité), 2019.
Andrew M. Davis, La création, dans : L’Évangile et l’Histoire (D.A. Carson et Timothy Keller, s. dir), Lyon, Clé (coll. Les brochures de la Gospel Coalition), 2012.
Henri Blocher, Révélation des origines, Le début de la Genèse, Charols, Excelsis (coll. Théologie Biblique) – GBU, 2018.

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