Theology of Rest
Even God rested on the seventh day.
Of all the tasks people jot on their personal To-Do lists, "nap," "relax," or "take a break," usually isn't one of them. "Shop for groceries," "pick up cleaning," or "mow the lawn," is more like it.
Jean-Francois Millet - Noonday Rest.
In America's current mindset, rest is often viewed as a luxury rather than a necessity. Many consider it a comfort to be indulged when time allows, or a goal to be achieved on a yearly vacation. Technology and the ability to work outside the office has contributed to the accelerated pace of the American worker, making a reprieve from it all extremely difficult. Rather than a natural function of life, forms of rest are now tasks to be put on one's smartphone. Problem is, it isn't happening because rest is often considered a waste of time rather than an essential requirement for the human mind, body and spirit.
God, however, has quite a different perspective on the value of rest. So much so, in fact, that some form of the word is mentioned approximately 500 times in the Bible, depending on the translation.
God Himself rested on the seventh day after six days of creation work. Genesis 2:3 states: "So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that He had done in creation." God valued the rest as much as He valued the creations.
Genesis 1:26-28 reveals that God also places a high value on humanity. He created us in His image and likeness, then blessed the creation of humankind.
In the Ten Commandments, as stated in Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, God instructs us to remember the Sabbath, keep it holy, and not do any work. He wants us to rest on the seventh day of the week as He rested on the seventh day.
In just four verses out of hundreds on the subject, the theology of rest is exposed from the beginning of time. The above verses conclude that:
1. God worked, rested and valued the rest.
2. God created us like Himself, blessed the creation, thus valuing humanity.
3. God commands his cherished humanity to rest on the seventh day as He did.
So, in sum, God desires His most valued creation to rest after working and to value that rest just as He did. Rest, therefore, is good.
The theology of rest is not limited to one's physical dimension. The mental and spiritual dimensions benefit as well. The mind, body and spirit connection needs to remain in balance and rest profoundly affects that equilibrium in the following ways:
* Improves concentration
* Increases clarity
* Manages stress
* Provides energy
* Decreases muscle tension
* Boosts immunity
* Slows heart rate
* Reduces blood pressure
* Slows rate of breathing, which calms the mind and spirit
* Enhances physical performance
* Stabilizes emotions
* Provides peace and tranquility to the soul
* Pleases God, especially resting on the Sabbath
Many argue that there is no time for rest in their busy lives. Jobs, children, family commitments and various activities take priority. But rest is something one must discipline one's self to do just like all those other tasks. The irony is that by integrating forms of rest into one's daily routine, and especially resting on the Sabbath as God intends, one discovers that the must-dos in life become easier to accomplish. Ironically, too, is that time spent resting doesn't take away the much needed time required to carry out life's duties; rather, it seems to provide us with more time.
Those ironies, along with a balanced mental, physical and spiritual condition, are examples of the incredible blessings our Creator bestows upon the ones who partake of His theology of rest.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: theology, rest, God, creation, mind, body, spirit, Sabbath, rest, Bible, peace
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