Sabbath Is Not a Luxury Good

God designed weekly rest to be holy for all people, not just the economically stable.

Everywhere we look we see people pushing themselves—their bodies, their minds, and their capacity for faithfulness and fruitfulness—to the limit. In some ways, society incentivizes this “to the limit” way of life: If you want to get ahead, it’s the price to pay.

But in other ways, society demands this lifestyle. People at the bottom of our socioeconomic ladder feel this most acutely, yet no one is immune. No matter the reason, we are trapped by our systems of productivity, and we take as much as we can from ourselves, burning the proverbial candle at both ends.

If you’ve ever thought, Enough is enough!—quietly protesting demands your body cannot meet—you certainly aren’t alone. I regularly wrestle with these feelings, sorting through my values and priorities, wondering if I’m conceding a good and whole life to the superficial aspirations of an unrelenting consumer society.

This is why I find myself grateful for the gift of Sabbath. Sabbath is God’s way of saying, Enough is enough.

Sabbath is an invitation to orient our lives around a different rhythm of practice, one that recognizes the moral limit to what we should expect our bodies and our lives to produce, and to the profit potential we should extract from ourselves and others.

Walter Brueggemann reminds us that Sabbath is framed through the stories of both Creation and Exodus. The Scriptures first frame the seventh day as God resting from the work of creation (Gen. 1). Is this because God lacks the capacity to continue? Hardly! Instead, God models for all of creation the idea that there is a moral limit to the demands of production. God invites people to join in his rest as a way of taking delight in creation. …

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