Why Downtime Is so Important to Christianity

Why Downtime Is so Important to Christianity May 26, 2023

Photo via Dan Burton / Unsplash

You live in a culture of busyness. Sleepless nights, overtime, spotless homes and full calendars are lauded. Your salary and possessions are the epitome of your success. This is the culture of a fallen world that’s come so far from almighty God’s original design. If you’re struggling to keep up or feeling overwhelmed, anxious and distanced from your savior, you must focus more on God’s rest and Christianity as a lifestyle rather than a Sunday service level of faith. 

Rest is essential to Christian doctrine, so you should know as much about it as possible. Walk through the historical and biblical context of Sabbath rest and see what it looks like under the new covenant. You’ll also discover the importance of rest in Christianity and why you must embrace it in your walk with the Lord. 

What Was Sabbath Rest?

The Sabbath was a day of rest established from the beginning of creation as an essential part of the life of God’s people. He created Adam and Eve to tend the garden and have dominion over the Earth, but they were to set aside a day to rest and connect with their creator. 

Much later, one of the 10 Commandments reminded the Israelites to remember the Lord’s Sabbath and keep it holy. God required 24 hours each week to be set aside to connect with Him

During this time, the Jews had to cease all work, trusting entirely in God’s provision. They prepared all the food they needed the day before, completed all housework and wrapped up in the fields. The period between sundown on Friday and sundown on the following day was set aside for communal worship and prayer.  

How Should You Practice Rest?

When Christ died for your sins on the cross, He perfectly satisfied the old covenant under Abraham. Followers of Jesus were and are no longer held captive under the Law. Instead, believers are welcomed to boldly approach the throne of God through Christ, the mediator and eternal high priest. 

Despite salvation from sin and Old Testament practices, Christians are called to walk differently than the rest of the world. You should strive every day to look more like Christ. One still essential practice is the idea of rest. However, your rest is no longer bound to one 24-hour period. Jesus invites you into His rest: 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

His rest is an active focus on connecting with God by spending time in prayer and His Word. You can engage with the Almighty, the creator of the universe, any day of the week. Worshiping in community on Sunday is still an important practice and essential to Christian perseverance. However, Sunday service is no longer the end-all-be-all of your rest in the Lord.  

What Is the Importance of Rest in Christianity?

Where should you turn to learn the importance of rest in Christianity? You should go to the one place you can find answers to your questions — God’s Word, the Bible. Every word is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Within its pages, you’ll find God’s view of rest and what it should look like in your daily life. 

God Commands It

The 10 Commandments God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai included a law about remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy. He laid out a specific time to drop work and come to Him. People should glorify God in community and lay aside their worldly cares. 

Even God rested on the seventh day of creation. He worked for six days and then set aside one day to reflect on and delight in all He had made. He is an immortal, perfect God who doesn’t need to rest and recuperate. He doesn’t need a break from His work. However, He sets an example for what He desires of His people. 

Jesus Demonstrated It

Rest shows up in the Bible beyond the necessity of the old covenant Law. Jesus demonstrated the importance of resting to His disciples. He slept in the boat before waking and calming the storm. He frequently left the others to pray alone with His heavenly Father. 

Jesus also explained, “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). This response was to accusations by the Pharisees that the disciples had broken Sabbath law by plucking heads of grain to eat. God created a day of rest as a blessing for His people, not a burden. The Jewish lawmakers added to God’s intentions, making strict rules that were far from the heart of His commands.  

Christians Need It

The importance of rest in Christianity then and now can’t be understated. True rest will help strengthen your physical, mental and spiritual health.

Exodus 23:12 highlights God’s plan for the Sabbath as a physical rest:

“Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.”

Setting aside one day each week to lay down all work allows people to heal their bodies and recuperate. This rest enables you to reset and refresh for a new week. His plan is to give all His people this downtime, from older believers to the youngest child. Kids greatly benefit from a day without obligations despite parents’ desire to fill their schedules with fun activities.   

Resting in the Lord also gives you a break from the mental woes of your life. When your eyes are fixed on Him and the coming of His eternal kingdom, where sorrows will be no more, the troubles of this world seem less important. Spending time meditating on the Word of God and in prayer can lower your anxieties and stress. 

Taking time to rest, whether on Sunday, a separate day or chunks of time throughout the week, will restore your soul, as Psalm 23:1-3 explains: 

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Spending time with God builds your relationship and brings you peace. When your calendar fills up and the busyness of life encroaches on you, do you take the time to rest and connect with your savior, or is your daily Bible reading or prayer time the first thing to go?

The Importance of Rest and Christianity

Rest and Christianity simply go together. You can’t sustain a strong walk with the Lord without taking time from the busyness of the world to spend with Him. While going to church and worshiping every Sunday is a vital part of your faith, you should take advantage of your ability to approach the throne of God boldly. 

If you’ve accepted Christ as your savior and allowed the Holy Spirit to change your life, you can talk to God and understand His Word on any day of the week. So, set aside some time daily to let go of everything else and focus on growing closer to God.

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