In Ken Shigematsu’s book, “Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a a World that Pressures Us to Achieve,” he writes a chapter titled, “Sabbath: The Rhythm of Resistance.”
It’s a strange way to talk about sabbath, but Shigematsu is informed by Walter Brueggemann:
“Sabbath is resistance… It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by production and commodity goods.”
Sabbath is resistance to the ways the world would squeeze us into its mould; it is resistance to the values that vault themselves over God; it is resistance to our pre-occupation with ourselves; Sabbath resists the inclination to trust what we do in a world ruled by God.
I suspect we take for granted the fact that “sabbath” is in our vocabulary, but as Thomas Cahill noted, until the Fourth Commandment was uttered (“Keep the Sabbath Holy unto the Lord”), no civilization had ever given ordinary, working people a regular day off. Shigematsu says:
“The gift of Sabbath was truly a unique and unprecedented gift, reminding the ancient Hebrews that they were no longer slaves of Pharaoh. Nor were their lives any longer defined by making bricks. The gift of Sabbath forms a new identity within us as well, reminding us that we are not slaves either.”
According to the Creation Story in Genesis 1, God rested on the seventh day – which means the day after He created man, the first human experience was to enter into the rest of the Creator God. We began our existence in rest.
Paradoxically, this is work; it takes preparation. C.S. Lewis obsessed that busyness for most of us is a form of sloth because we haven’t planned well enough in order to embrace rest. Shigematsu tells us, “practically, in order to enter into Sabbath, we will need to decide in advance what we will do as well as what we will not do.”
We begin and continue to understand true rest as we understand the One who made us for Himself:
“There remains a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4:9 – 11
May we find our sabbath-rest in Christ.
For a free download of Ken’s book, go to “Survival Guide for the Soul.”