Why Do We Think It’s Okay to Ignore the Sabbath?

Why Do We Think It’s Okay to Ignore the Sabbath? October 21, 2012

Our culture is nothing if not over-busy and stressed-out. You don’t have to look very hard to discover that our society’s relationship to time is a complete mess. The most rudimentary teaching from the scriptures on how human beings should relate to time is called the Sabbath. Walter Brueggemann teaches that Sabbath isn’t the cessation of work, so much as it is the cessation of restlessness. For one day a week we stop our ceaseless working, generating, producing, consuming, worrying, hurrying, and so on, in order to just enjoy the day. Sabbath is about learning to delight in the goodness of time. That one day a week – set apart for rest and delight – will help to mend the brokenness of every other day of the week as well.

Do you feel busy? Stressed out? Over-committed? Are you struggling to connect with your kids? Your Spouse? Is your job asking too much of you? Are you constantly checking email, text, twitter, facebook, etc.? God’s remedy is simple: remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

Why does everyone break the Sabbath? We work on Sabbath, we do homework, we shop, we clean, we do all kinds of things that go against the very spirit of the day. God gives us six full days to chase our tails, and just one day to stop, focus our lives upon the goodness of God, and just live it up, delighting in God and each other.

Out of all the ten commandments, there’s only one that we feel justified to repeatedly break: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. We would never say it’s okay to kill, steal, make idols, commit adultery, lie or any of the others, but we will break the Sabbath anytime it gives us some sort of social or cultural payoff. Could it be that the reason for this is that Sabbath keeping is now the most radical of all of the commandments? I think it is.

Our family is rethinking how we do Sabbath right now, trying to allow God to shape this day around delight, rest, and enjoying the goodness of simply being alive. In the midst of our crazy-busy culture, Sabbath is a gift.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • scott stone

    Didn’t really start contemplating the Sabbath until I read Heschel’s book The Sabbath a few years ago. Add this book to the “must read” list.

    • Tim Suttle

      Yes indeed!

  • I wonder what kind of resources you have found to help you navigate these waters, especially with the pull of kid activities, weekend volunteerism, and the like, not to mention errands and chores, etc. etc. world without end!

    I love Heschel’s book (Wayne Muller’s is also excellent) but I didn’t find much out there that spoke to the experience of having kids in a practical, realistic way. I finally ended up writing my own 😉

  • I think you’re right, it is counter-cultural. We also fail to realize that it’s not intended to be a rigid rule we must follow, but a gift-the gift of rest.

  • James McCormack

    You’re ignoring the bit about being ordered to kill anyone who works on the sabbath. Exodus 35:2. http://biblehub.com/exodus/35-2.htm . Explain how it’s okay for you to ignore that order.