Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Working and Resting

Driving to work this morning was a delight. The day was lovely; a kindness bestowed upon the Back to Work World that made it much easier to venture out into the day and to the office.

I passed fields that glistened with a coating of shiny ice that covered the powdery snow and reflected back the faintest delicate pink light, caught from the morning sky.

In the evening I drove back from Newmarket, where I had gone after work, and the day hadn't waned in it's efforts to dazzle. The sunset sky was deepest turquoise fading to salmon pink on the horizon. On either side of the road, the silhouetted tree branches brushed the sky softly and I imagined that I was driving through the middle of a giant fur coat.

Before work, I read more of Mark's gospel; chapter 2, which contains the account (verses 23-28) of Jesus scandalizing the Pharisees by picking heads of grain on the Sabbath. The final verses say this:
Mark 2:27-28 (New International Version)
27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

I could see by looking ahead that at the beginning of chapter 3 Jesus is doing more scandalizing of Pharisees, this time by healing on the Sabbath. It almost seems as if he's going out of his way, in fact, to shake them up on the subject of Sabbath Keeping.

Then I read Colossians 2, which had an answer.

Colossians 2:16-17 (New International Version)
16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Jesus was trying to get them to see that the Sabbath is a shadow, telling of the Rest we find in him alone. There was an end to trying to climb up to God by keeping a set of rules and regulations for their own sake. The gospel is the good news of freedom. In Christ, a love relationship is our motivation for dying to self and sin.

I went downstairs. After breakfast I opened a little book that Paul and I have been reading together by Watchman Nee. This man led the indigenous church movement in China; was arrested in 1952 and imprisoned on a number of false charges; dying, still in prison, in 1972.

The book's title is Sit, Walk; Stand. Paul and I are still on the "sitting" part as we are reading only a few paragraphs each day. Imagine my surprise to find myself reading things I had never before considered, about the very first Sabbath, but which so connected with my early morning reading. Watchman writes that since Adam was created on the 6th day, although for God, the Sabbath was the 7th day; for Adam it was his first day. Adam was given a "rest" before he did a thing.

"...it was because God's work of creation was truly complete that Adam's life could begin with rest. And here is the Gospel: that God has gone one stage further and completed also the work of redemption, and that we need do nothing whatever to merit it, but can enter by faith directly into the values of his finished work." Watchman Nee

Good news indeed, that we need always to be reminded of, for we are so prone to gravitate to being "good enough" or "working hard," when we have only to receive with grateful hearts. The work is done!

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