American Christianity is weird. Now that I mention it, I have been in it quite a long time now and it seems to just be getting even more weird…
I knew that I was in for a bumpy ride within my first year as a Christian. I mean, the first month and a half of my conversion, no one spoke to me at the church that I went to.
So, I knew from the jump that I was probably not going to fit in. And sure enough, I haven’t.
Sometimes its like the church folks in America and I don’t even speak the same language. Kind of like talking to a deaf person who watches your mouth open and close like a fish trying to suck in some water when none is there.
Yeah, kind of like that.
One of the strange things about the modern church is their fascination with the error of Antinomianism.
For those of you who don’t know, Antinomianism is a cute little heresy from way back that basically says that because Christ freed us from the law and works, nothing is required of us at all. It basically is a false teaching that tells people that they are exempt from any moral law since they are under grace.
I may deal with that error in a full article at some point. Today though, I just wanted to point it out to ward off any Antinomians (like garlic for vampires) as I talk about the Sabbath. And if we aren’t speaking the same language, or you are Antinomian- that’s fine. You take the high road and I’ll take the low road and I’ll get to Dublin before ye.
This article is for those who do feel the same way and who could really use the blessing of it in their lives.
You see, this year, we decided to go ahead and break from Pennycostul tradition and celebrate Holy Week. We are doing the whole she-bang; Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Didache, communion), Good Friday, Holy Saturday (fasting and prayer) and a sunrise Easter service.
Anyway, included in our Holy Week plans is a fast from Friday night to Saturday night. That of course, is the traditional Sabbath. Now, I know that a lot of religious folks have misused things like the Sabbath, taking all the fun out of them, like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day. But I am not talking about that.
I am talking about 24 hours of your week where you un-plug and focus on the things with real meaning in your life, things like relaxation, family, nature, your health and most importantly, God. See, Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. That means, God put the Sabbath in place so that for one day out of the week, we could get re-centered and find some balance against the other six days.
That is something seriously lacking in our world. I mean, it is go-go-go, all of the time. Then one day you wake up and you don’t know your wife because you haven’t spent any real time with her. You are roommates with benefits and that’s about it. You don’t really know your kids either. Usually because you haven’t had any real time for yourself or for you and your spouse and so you want them in bed as soon as possible. And so it goes. We hustle from one thing to the next and miss everything in between.
That’s one of the reasons I don’t care much for cities. The stimulus is just ridiculous; the flashing lights, signs, buildings, people, cars, noise, smoke. It can be overwhelming and if you are like me, I value controlled stimulus, not chaos.
So we all need a break. But most of the time we find that in TV or movies or busy music. All things that overstimulate your brain and are really not what God had in mind at all when he came up with rest.
For us, we started to un-plug by getting rid of the television as the centerpiece of the living room. We just got it out of there completely and replaced it with a bookshelf. We didn’t know if anyone would still use the space after we did it, particularly the young ones. But after we did it, I came downstairs and the two youngest were sharing an easy chair reading a book. And the room has been in constant use ever since, actually, it is used more now than before. We all talk at night, read books, whatever. And there is a sense of peace that was not there before.
Taking this whole idea one step further, we are adopting the idea of Sabbath once a week. For 24 hours, sundown to sundown, things go off. No cellphones, TV, movies, computers, video games, everything goes off. We won’t buy or sell anything during that 24 hours. And the whole idea is to reconnect to people, nature, ourselves and God.
Upon doing an internet search for the Sabbath, I found some great resources. Here is a list that I found that we are going to print and place on the fridge to help us remember what the day is about:
The 10 Principles of Sabbath
1. Avoid technology.
2. Connect with loved ones.
3. Nurture your health.
4. Get outside.
5. Avoid commerce.
6. Light candles.
7. Drink wine.
8. Eat bread.
9. Find silence.
10. Give back.
What a great list! And what a great idea from God!
So, find those “whole” things in your life and focus on them for 24 hours out of every week. Get out in a garden and get some dirt in your toes. Go for a walk in the park and get some grass between your toes. Get some wine and a loaf of fresh bread and Brie and go sit under a tree or by a river with your spouse. Let the kids ask anything they want for an hour of undivided attention.
If your life is so busy that you and the family simply cannot spare the time, then now would be a great time to sit down with everyone and discuss whether or not you are truly living. I mean, is all that stuff really worth it?
So, take God’s suggestion and get free. Blessings on you and good Sabbath!