Self-Reliant Church: Mark 2

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Are you ready to talk about the Sabbath some more?
I know I’m not. But we’re going to dive in anyway!

It’s really fascinating to read through the life of Jesus. The gospels are filled with so many stories about our Savior and how he interacted with the world and people around him. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how hated he was by the religious elite of the time. The Pharisees and Sadducees seemed to spend all their time following him around and judging him—they are the first recorded trolls.

In one of these scenes, the religious elite are acting as the hall monitors of Israel, policing the actions of the disciples who decided to pluck some ears of grain for an afternoon snack. The Pharisees, of course, point this out to Jesus, who sets them straight. Then he says this:

“And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”” Mark 2:27-28 (ESV)

This is incredible! We weren’t made for the Sabbath, but this invitation to rest in the presence of God was tailor-made for us. God knew we would need this time of rest and intimacy with him, so he created the Sabbath as a mechanism to serve our needs.

I think this story pairs perfectly with what we learn about God in James 1:17.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

The Sabbath is a gift from God that was made specifically for us. And we know that God is a giver of good gifts—he’s never going to give us a gift that will harm us or others. God’s gifts will always bring us closer to him and transform us into his image.

Learning to See the Sabbath as a Gift

I wonder if we might want to honor the Sabbath if we saw it as a gift instead of a rule. I am not always a fan of rules, especially ones I don’t agree with or don’t understand. But, when I understand that God has created the Sabbath for me—that it is important for me to be healthy and dependent upon him—it changes my perspective. When I see the Sabbath as a good gift from my kind Father, I’m less likely to disobey.

The Bible makes it clear that we don’t exist for ourselves. We have been created to glorify God and enjoy him. We are on this earth to do good and point people to Christ. But we aren’t called to do this on our own. God isn’t expecting us to hold the world together or work our lives away. He doesn’t want us to be so focused on mission that we neglect him, ourselves, or others.

I believe the Sabbath is a sweet invitation to take a breath. To stop. To enjoy God. And to trust him.

I have always been fairly self-reliant and slow to trust. So the idea of needing and treasuring the Sabbath requires a great deal of humility. If I continue to neglect the Sabbath, it’s an act of pride and disobedience. And we all know how God feels about pride.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?

If I had to venture a guess, I would say that most of us don’t respect the Sabbath as we should. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard someone preach a sermon about how the Sabbath is a gift from God. It’s one of the only commandments we’re often (whether explicitly or implicitly) encouraged to disobey. But I believe that God is calling us to accept his gift and rest in him.

Because this looks different in each of our lives, I believe that our next steps are all different. Take some time, sit with God, and ask him what your next steps are. How can you practically accept his gift of the Sabbath?

Here’s what I’m working through:

  1. Repenting for disobeying, for being self-reliant, and not valuing what God values.
  2. Asking God to change my heart and mind so I treasure the Sabbath.
  3. Crafting a plan so that I actually enjoy the Sabbath. Looking at my calendar each week and setting aside a full day (that’s the goal that I’m working up to) where I just enjoy God and enjoy life. Where I actually choose to rest instead of believing the lie that I can work forever.

What is God saying to you? What are your next steps to move past self-reliance to a deeper reliance upon him?

May we be a people who set ourselves apart from the world in making God’s priorities our own and taking his word seriously.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?

What’s your plan to honor the Sabbath this week?

To go Deeper: James 1: The Perfect Companion to Proverbs, Are You Enjoying God?
Check out Behold, a simple tool to help you see and savor God! 

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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