Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sabbath: The Practice of Unimportance

Sunday's Message (October 27): Nuts and Bolts
Message Audio: Listen HERE 

I didn't preach on Sunday. I spoke but didn't preach (some people might argue that I never preach - haha). I unpacked our new Connect Groups initiative which we launch in January. It is rather challenging to write a post that builds on a nonsermon, but during my Sunday info-bomb I mentioned Connect Groups will not meet three months out of the year. My reason? Sabbath. So...there is my "in" for this post. I'm going to write about Sabbath...just one angle.

Some days I feel important, as if the world needs me. Facebook and Twitter fuel my disillusionment  because they give me an avenue to make believe I'm a celebrity. I get to be my own paparazzi. But when I take a break from myself long enough to clear my head I cannot hide from the reality that I share this planet with 7 billion other people, and that if I cease to exist tomorrow the world wouldn't bat an eyelash. Not that it wouldn't care, but it wouldn't even know to care! For 99.999999999999% of the world life would not change. And for a handful of people, four to be exact, their world would crumble but only for a short time. Their life would go on too. It always does.

You may be saying, "That's depressing!" Not really. It is true. It is humbling and it is a reminder that I'm not as important as I think I am or would like to be. My existence, my effort, my work, my contributions, and my ideas do not sustain the world. The ebb and flow of Creation does not depend upon the energies I exhaust. Life does not need me. Life is a gift to me!

For many of us our busyness is self-idolatry. We worship our productivity. We think we somehow sustain our companies, our families, our world. We refuse to take a break, to rest, to cease because we fear things will fall apart if we stop. Reality check! One day you will stop and life will go on...ebbing and flowing. Don't get me wrong, your contributions matter but they do not hold the cosmos in check. God and God alone sustains creation. Sabbath is a spiritual practice that reminds us of this simple truth. God is in charge. During sabbath you force yourself to "cease" from your busyness and productivity and miraculously life goes on.

In Leviticus 25, the Lord tells Israel that every 7th year is a Sabbath year. He commands:

But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields  or prune your vineyards...The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you - for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary residents who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.

God says "For six years you can plant, sow, and tend to your fields, but on the seventh you can only eat what the earth provides without your assistance." The sabbath year not only provided rest for the land but it reminded Israel that their existence was not dependent upon their effort and strategic farming, but on the provision of the one who sustains all things. I'm sure those 7th years were terrifying to Israel and yet somehow they always had food, somehow they managed to survive. Life did not depend upon their effort but upon God's sovereignty and love.

Take a sabbath. Engage in the practice of unimportance. Your company will not go under if you take a day off. Your kids will not grow up to be serial killers if you and your spouse hire a baby-sitter for the weekend and get out of Dodge. Your kids will not miss their chance at pro-ball because you take a year off from sports. Take a sabbath. Remind yourself that life does not need you. Enjoy the fact that life is a gift to you!

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