This week’s topic is that we need rest. We probably already know this is a physical and emotional reality, but it may surprise us to know God rests, and says we need it too. In fact, he commands rest in the first book of the Bible after God created the universe.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV)
A few weeks ago, we saw that God worked, and that we were created to work with him. Now we see God rested. We are also created to rest with him…and share that rest with others.
To help, God gave a rhythm for rest and work. Six days of work, and one day of rest. It’s not equal, as work still outweighs rest. But it’s rhythmic and balances our need for creation and recreation.
God’s rest is the model for our rest. What is God’s rest like?
First, He stops creating. Producing, accumulating, moving, operating.
Clearly his work of sustaining continued – the earth kept spinning and the plants keep growing. But his work of creating takes a pause.
Secondly, he was satisfied with his work. It’s finished. Some things are complete, good, and need to ripen.
We can see these kinds of rest in us today – we need to kick our feet up and stop creating, and we also need to rest by enjoying and appreciating things like nature, art, music and more.
We’ll look in future weeks at how that looks in our context. But we won’t be suggesting this is about a particular day or practice that creates God’s favour and blessing in our lives. It’s about God having created us, knowing what we need, and giving it to us as a gift, if only we’d take it.
Question: What kind of creating do you do? It’s not just artists – people create order, learning, art, ideas, value, research, roads, buildings and more. What do you create?
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Our efforts to impose rest on ourselves often fail. That’s because the problem is not one of having the right tools to get things done, avoid procrastination, etc. We can use these things, but it really starts with our hearts – and there is a problem in our hearts called sin – the consequence of our rebellion against God. Everything we do – work and rest, and the rhythm of Sabbath rest, takes on a selfish tinge as a result.
In the 4th Century a Christian leader named Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”
It’s hard work being separated from God. God said it would be – sin meant we would have to toil to overcome thorny ground and survive. But we can find our rest in God. In Jesus, we have access to that rest once again, even though we opted out in sin. Jesus did the ultimate work of closing the separation between us and God.
We can once again join him in building his kingdom, in his creative work. We do this using the gifts he’s given us to work to build a better society, life-giving technology, strong families, new infrastructure and so on. Whatever is consistent with his plan and purpose.
And we can also rest in him, knowing that it’s his work we help with, and not our work to force by our sheer act of will. We can find deep satisfaction in knowing God is God, and invites us to work with him, rather than against him or instead of him. This says it nicely:
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10 ESV)
It’s in knowing God is God, and we are not, that we find rest.
Said another way: It’s in knowing God, through Jesus’ work on the cross, that we find rest for our souls.
Challenge: Make a list of the excuses and reasons you’ve used to avoid rest. Pray about each one of these and turn them over to God in trust.
Just in time for summer's blend of work and rest, Redeem the Commute is starting a new series of daily challenges to help busy people restore life to the commuting lifestyle. This seven week series will look at the meaning and purpose of work, rest, and ancient practices that have helped followers of Jesus to keep the two in perspective and balance for centuries.