by Sam Harvey, pastor of Grace Vineyard's Beach Campus
Imagine if a leader or pastor in our church was caught lying or cheating on their spouse, or we discovered they actually believed the spaghetti monster was god and worshipped him secretly in their office?
What if we discovered one of our leaders had the nasty habit of murdering people?
We would be outraged, shocked, it would probably spell the end of their leadership for a while, and there would be some pretty serious conversations that would need to take place.
Now all of these things are in the 10 commandments, and we rightly take them very seriously. But what strikes me as rather odd is that we don’t mind people working for the church constantly and never taking a break! We are commanded to engage with Sabbath rest, and this is clearly something very precious and central to God's heart.
I wonder whether this is one of our greatest blind spots in regards to sin?
I find it fascinating that the Israelites were commanded to rest (punishable by death if they didn’t!) when they were freed from Egypt. For a nation that had its identity caught up in how many bricks they produced, God was giving them a new identity that wasn’t caught up in what they produced, but in whose they were.
The same is true today. If we are unable to stop working (even for God), we are still a slave to what we produce.
One of the great challenges of ministry is to prioritise the weekly “down tools”, disengagement from the work. There always seem to be a reason why it's not quite possible in “this season”.
It is also one of the areas that can be the greatest blessing. The Sabbath is like the future reign of God breaking in to the present, where the world is the way it should be. It is the time to be refreshed, renewed. It’s the time we are saying with our actions, “this ministry is not mine, it is Yours”, and therefore I can stop producing “bricks”.
It’s a day of laughter and celebration, of good food, of lifegiving relationships, it’s a day of the kingdom in its fullness. And it’s a day that places God back on the throne where we outwork the spiritual muscle of obedience to Him, where we remain passionate about building the kingdom, but building it the King's way.
Practically … what day is that for you? What does rest look like for you? How can you involve God in your day of rest? What could this day look like for you? Why does it feel difficult to slow down?