Total Pageviews

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Inclusive Sabbath

"But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work, you ... or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male or female slaves may rest as well as you" (Deuteronomy 5:14).

An incredible aspect of the sabbath command is the application of it to all people, including foreigners and slaves. God's intentions for creation and for his chosen people do not exclude the those lowests on society's rung, the immigrants and the non-persons, the slaves. These who are viewed as less than human in conventional thinking are highly valued by God.

In the mercy and unconditional love of Jesus Christ, we see just how much God loves the slave, the refugee, the lowly. Jesus made time for blind men, even on his march to the cross (Mark 10:46-52). Jesus spent time with society's disreputables (Mark 2:16-17), and he loved those society had abandoned (Luke 8:26-39).

In taking the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ to the Mediterranean world, Paul shared with gentiles and Jews, the rich and the poor. While a prisoner, Paul led another inmate, Onesimus, to receive Christ, and then Paul comissioned Onesimus' master/owner, Philemon, to receive Onesimus not as a slave but as a brother in Christ (Philemon 17-18). And Paul wrote that in Christ "there is no slave or free ... for all are one in Christ" (Galatians 3:28).

While we might not open our homes every week for hosting on the Sabbath, it is good to do some times. Invite people to your home as a part of your day of rest, your day set apart to the Lord. Jesus often dined in the home of his friends, but he says, "when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind" (Luke 11:13). Let hospitality be lovingly given to people who will be thoroughly blessed, people who have not been welcomed by many. In Sabbath prayer, remember to pray on behalf of the poor.

I do not think the Sabbath is the time to do active advocacy work on behalf of the marginalized people of society. However, the Sabbath is most certainly to invite disinfranchised persons to join in the church's worship and then to enjoy a meal with them after the worship service.

As we have said throughout this month-long conversation on Sabbath, rest is not simply ceasing from work and doing nothing. Rest is stopping time as we know it and entering Sabbath time. Sabbath time is time for worship, time for fellowship, time for welcome and hospitality, and it is time to recognize that the blessings God means for us are blessing God means for all people.

No comments:

Post a Comment