There is a lot at stake when it comes to Christians learning how to slow down. Doctors have been warning us for decades about the danger of a frantic pace of life. Marriages have been ruined because they have been replaced by work. Families have become strangers to each other because they are caught up in the rat race of consumerism.
The Christian life is counter cultural. The Christian life was meant to be lived slowly. This is hard for American Christians to accept, but it is true. If we can take a step back from the hectic pace of our consumer society, we will be able to see that God never intended people to live at the breakneck speed we see all around us today.
When God created the heavens and the earth, he did so more slowly than humans would have. We would have created it with one big bang, but that’s not what God had in mind. He modeled the creation week after our planet’s natural division of time, “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1:5)
In the ancient world, many people believed each “day” started at night. This meant that the rhythm of each day was naturally limited by the setting and the rising of the sun. Technology existed, but it did not allow people to work beyond the original time frame that God had established with the twenty-four hour day.
We know life was meant to be lived slowly because God included a seventh day in the creation week. This is the day of rest. Genesis 2 says, “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.”
Isn’t it fascinating to consider that rest was included in the first work week of creation? This goes against how we think of work. We separate work and rest, but God included rest as a part of his work week. The creation week would not have been complete if he didn’t rest.
He not only included the day of rest; he blessed it and made it holy. This is why the people of God have always reserved one day a week for rest. They have always understood that life was meant to be lived slowly, because God modeled this for us in the creation week.
Jesus Christ confirmed this in his teaching. He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) He was making the point that God did not establish the Sabbath as a rule that man had to keep. He established the Sabbath as a blessing for humans to experience.
The Hebrew word for Sabbath literally means to stop. The goal of bringing an end to work is so you will be able to find rest for your soul. This is not supposed to only happen one day a week. The Christian life is supposed to be lived slowly every day of the week. The apostle Paul did not say “run by the Spirit.” He said, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
Jesus gave us his own warning. He said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Those who don’t believe in Christ must be warned. They will lose their souls unless they repent of their sin and commit their lives to the one who died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for their sins. The believer is also in danger, not of being condemned, but of wasting his or her life. It is possible for a Christian to run through life so fast that their soul is never given the time to find it’s rest in God. May we all slow down to be able to find the rest and the peace that we all so desperately need.