April 4, 2020

by Justin Burleson

Take a moment and think back a few thousand years to the people of Israel as they’re leaving Egypt. They spent over 400 years in Egypt. Generation after generation grew up in slavery. Day-in-day-out, hard labor. It would have been deeply ingrained in their subculture that hard work was key to survival. How was their worth measured? By how many bricks they produced. The more you produce, the more valuable you are to your owner. The less you produce… well, that’s where the beatings started.
As they left Egypt and prepared to enter the land promised to them, God gave his people several laws to guide how they were to live out their freedom. One of those was a law commanding rest. Rest is something, from the Israelite perspective, that is holy. Even God rested on the 7th day in the creation story(Exodus 20:8-11). 
Resting is not something that, as a society, we are very good at. At least, I know I’m not. I often use my “time off” to work around the house, work on my side business, or “get things done” in general. We tend to view leisure time as a guilty pleasure, indulging from time-to-time while feeling beating ourselves up about it.
In our culture, we value production. Your salary is based off what you produce for your employer. If you want to make more money, then you better produce more value. Work some overtime, become more efficient, think of a way to make the business more money. That’s capitalism, after all, and that’s fine, as far as it goes. Let’s face it, though, folks. We don’t stop there. We don’t just value jobs based on production; it’s how we value people. Who is the most respected, most celebrated in our society? I don’t even need to answer this for you.
By commanding the Israelites to dedicate one day each week to rest, God was ordaining a day of non-production. I think the Sabbath was one way God was reminding his people that they weren’t valuable because of what they produce; they were valuable because they were made in the image of God. God needed to help the Israelites redefine their identity. 
I think we need to redefine ours, too. We are valuable because we are made in the image of God. You are valuable, not because of what you produce, but because you are made in the image. 
Now, I’m not saying we need to observe the Sabbath in the same way the Israelites did. I am saying (and Jesus said as much: Mark 2:27) that Sabbath has immense value to us a human beings. Often, we find ourselves stuffing every moment of our lives with activities. As COVID-19 has cancelled most of these things, many of us are left with more time with our families and more time at our homes than we’ve ever had before.  
I’d like to encourage you to set apart some time over the next couple of days to be non-productive. Watching Netflix or browsing Instagram doesn’t count, either. Take some time to reflect on the fact that you are valuable, not because of what you do, but because you are a unique expression of God’s image.

Type your new text here.

No Comments