Welcome to Faithful Fatherhood. In this place, we challenge ourselves to grow stronger, faster, and smarter in our faith and fatherhood. We do this by teaching each other, playing with our kids, and resting. Resting is the hardest part of fatherhood because most of us err on the side of laziness when we “rest,” but laziness is not the type of rest we do here. We do something far better because we rest our souls, the souls of our children, and the soul of our spouse by inviting God to rest with us. That might sound high and mighty or holier than thou, but I can assure you there is no one here holier than thou.
For the last couple of weeks, we have been exploring Christian Hospitality. What does that mean? How does it function? Are Christians even hospitable to Jesus? Along the way, I have shared stories meant to bring this high thinking into the realm of reality: being at home with your kids, first night home as a parent, and the unending battle of cleaning after our children. Last week we honed in on our hostility toward Christ because we did the good things of focusing on people and serving them. The key idea noted how church leaders don’t serve their people. Church leaders serve God, and by serving God people are served.
This is a tough concept to put on the ground because it is hard to refocus our attention on God. Our culture, the very air we breathe, forces us to be concerned with humanity. Even the most well-intentioned and sincerest follower of Jesus falls into this trap of focusing on humanity. I am certainly the largest failure in this regard.
What I am saying is that to refocus on God is that we must oppose culture. A culture that I, my family, and countless others gave their lives to build. It is a culture that gives me great joy and privilege, yet it is opposed to the soul most important to me, God’s. (Note: I do not know if God has a soul and to get hung up on that use of language would steal the potential growth you could gain from the rest of the article.) To fight culture, we must first examine what our culture prizes and then resist.Even the most well-intentioned and sincerest follower of Jesus falls into this trap of focusing on humanity. Click To Tweet
Our culture is focused on what you can produce. How many hours did you work, how much did you produce, how many followers do you have, how much money do you make, what do you do for a living? Did you see that last one? Don’t let it slip by you. What do you do for a living? That question we ask so easily and freely centers on what we value. The question can be uncomfortably reworded this way what and how much do you produce with your life? When you put it that way we see what we value is not the person, but their contribution. Take a minute, and let that sink in.
When we value production over people we lose, not just the individualism that makes people special, but we lose people to the machinery of what philosophers call Empire. In the Bible, Empire is archetypal. The archetypal empires of the Bible are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Rome. In many ways, we see the archetypal empire in Exodus, Egypt. While the name changes, the motives and methods don’t.
Modern Day Empire
You might say, but we aren’t that bad. We don’t have slavery. We don’t commit genocide as those empires did, but I can tell you we do. In my home state of Tennessee, about one woman is forced into slavery every day. It is higher in other states, lower in others. Even if it were 50 a day across the country, that is over 1,500 women a year. To put that in perspective the average slaving ship in the 1800s could make two trips a year, totaling almost 600 persons. It would take at least 3 slave ships to equal what we passively lose each year to slavery. The state department estimates that at least 50,000 people are trafficked in the US each year. It is estimated that there are 400,000 people living in slavery in the United States right now.
Do you still think we are better than the archetypal empire? Egypt is decried for killing the newborn Hebrew children Exodus 1. We have way outdone them in scale and percentage with abortion. Who has rights the unproductive baby in the womb or the mother who can produce right now? We value productivity, not people in our culture. To think otherwise is to be a frightened ostrich with your head in the sand.This is the culture we like to think is hospitable to God. It isn’t. So how can we resist a culture of productivity? By resting. Click To Tweet
Sabbath is an interesting idea. It is a day. The Christian God isn’t limited to a place. God claims time. There is a whole day that is God’s, the Sabbath. The Sabbath counters the culture of productivity by enforcing a rest. I don’t mean just a rest to sleep though you should definitely catch up on some Zzz’s on Sabbath. I mean a day to embrace that we are more than what we produce. A day to remind us of our humanity which is a lot more than what we produce. Production is for plants and animals. They spend all their time producing or catching or eating food. Humans are made to be in a relationship and think and philosophize and play. Let me give you a quick break down of Sabbath.
History of Sabbath
Sabbath is instituted in the first chapter of the Bible, Day 7. If humanity was created on Day 6, then humanity’s first day on earth was Sabbath. It was a day of rest. (Don’t comment on the timeline nonsense of Genesis. Whether Genesis is a metaphor or not doesn’t change the meaning that Sabbath exists as early as humanity.)
From there it isn’t mentioned again until the Law in Exodus. Here is my favorite quote on the Sabbath from Exodus – this is post Ten Commandments, Tabernacle building procedures, and priestly garments
13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.
Above all keep my Sabbaths. Above the tabernacle, and ten commandments was “keep the Sabbath.” Just always found that interesting, but never had any way to act on it. We will get to that later.
Sabbath in the New Testament
For you, OT haters out there here is a quote of Hebrews about the Sabbath. You decide if it’s worth giving your attention to.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.[a] 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God[b] would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
Today, we know that the Sabbath is important. About 100 years ago, Henry Ford learned his employees were actually more productive if they were limited to a 40-hour work week. This was an age where the 60-80-hour work week was seen as luxurious. With the breakthrough success of the assembly line and the increasing unionization, we gained two days as a weekend.
Fast forward to today and those weekend days are vanishing once more. Social media and the global economy have halted our days off. Because something is always going on somewhere around the world there are no days off. Nowhere is this more readily seen than the 24/7 news cycle. All of the major news studios fill 168 hours a week of content. It is impossible to conceive that there is that much information out there to consume, but even those 168 hours are curated from the hundreds and thousands more content created through social media, blogs (like this one), and YouTube. The onslaught against rest is unrelenting and the question in our society always comes down to are you going to produce?
Christian Hospitality: Sabbath
You know what is hospitable to Jesus, stopping and resting on the day he set aside at the very beginning of time. When we take a whole day to rest then we have the opportunity to invite Jesus in. In the busy world of production who has time to invite Jesus?
We have even made Christianity into an industry we are so busy. This is a picture from my MailChimp account. What does it say next to industry (what I produce) – religion? MailChimp labels me as a religion producer. You know what? It is true. I do produce religion. I produce faith and fatherhood tips. Do you know how I do that best? Resting with God.
I am not judged by how much religion I produce. I am judged by who I produce it with and the quality of the production. Think about the parable of the talents. The amount produced is not the issue. The issue is that something quality is produced. That may take more time or not. The point is that I do it with God.
Hospitable to Jesus
So you want to be hospitable to Jesus? Take a day of rest from the world. Don’t worry about social media, TV news or the hot new show (Game of Thrones at the time of this writing). Be with your family, your Christian family. Do you know who ought to feel comfortable showing up at the family gathering? Jesus. Eat, laugh, tell funny stories, maybe even cry together. Grief is one thing that might find you on a Sabbath, but we will get into that next week. Be warned Sabbath is a difficult habit to build.
Hospitable to Others
Do you know who is tired? Everyone. Everyone in our society needs rest. The best way you can be hospitable to them is to give them rest. The only way to get real rest is to invite Jesus too. Bring them into your Christian family and give their soul some rest. That was what hospitality was all about originally, setting aside a place for strangers to rest from their journey. We aren’t any different today than we were thousands of years ago. We all need rest. Rest is hospitable and Christians can offer the best rest.The only way to get real rest is to invite Jesus too. Bring them into your Christian family and give their soul some rest. Click To Tweet
Tune in Thursday
You want to know more? Tune in Thursday. My wife and I are going to start Sabbathing this summer. We are going to figure it out for our family this summer because she will be on maternity leave for the whole summer, and I am going to take a sabbatical for part of the summer.
Remember Sabbath is risky and difficult. Because you know what is risky? Taking a Sabbath as a solopreneur. The only way to make it as a solopreneur like me is to stick with it every-day, working longer and longer hours. God lets me know something different. The only way I am going to make it is by resting, constantly and consistently with God.
If rest and Christian hospitality sound good to you, sign up below. Over the summer I will have some resources for you regarding Sabbath. Don’t forget to tune in Thursday. I am going to give out some practical tips on keeping the Sabbath in modernity. If you think Sabbath is all about laying on the couch, you need to check in Thursday because it is more than just a nap on the couch. It is so much more fun and restful than you might imagine.
See you Thursday,