Why does society ignore the Sabbath?

Moses with tablets, Color, Grouped elements
Moses with tablets, Color, Grouped elements Getty Images

God spoke to Moses: "In six days God made the Heavens and the Earth and on the seventh day he stopped and took a long, deep breath." — from The Message translation of Exodus 31:15

The Old Testament commandment is pretty clear: Chill out on the Sabbath.

On any given weekend, folks are mowing, weeding their gardens or shopping on what could be a day of rest.

Mark Buchanan, author of The Rest of God, notes the Hebrew word shabbat simply means "to cease." The Chik-fil-A chain of fast-food restaurants famously closes its doors on Sunday.

Should everything cease? Do we need rest, both physical and spiritual? Do you use the Sabbath to feed your soul by weeding the flower bed? Do you find God at the mall? Can "work" be restorative?

That is our Question of Faith this month. Members of the Faith Blog Network weighed in.

Mary Seeger Weese, Midway Presbyterian Church: Ah, our favorite commandment to ignore. Not that we want to ignore it, it's just so darn easy, and of all the commandments, it is sort of like the runt of the litter.

Jesus says the Sabbath is made for us. God calls us to stop the frantic spin of life for a few good reasons.

First, we need to take time off for God.

Stop believing that the world relies on you to get everything done and that every second of every day you have to be plugged in, on the go, busting through your to-do list. It takes a great act of faith to believe that you can't and you shouldn't do it all. God is important enough to deserve space in your life.

Second, we need to take time off for others.

Enjoy your family, your friends. Spend time with your spouse. Rest. And while you are doing that resting, don't make someone else work. Don't make your male or female slave work. Don't make your livestock work. Don't make the resident aliens in your town work.

Even the earth gets a break from tilling and traffic and toil. We do not get to rest at someone else's expense. Nothing and no one is denied the rest that God gives, even if the free market will allow for it.

So if we take the Sabbath seriously as a commandment from God, what does that mean for our 24/7 shopping centers and our use of alien residents and the cheap stuff we live on made by people who get no rest? What if God's command to honor the Sabbath is asking us to practice a little justice? To live by God's law rather than the law of profit?

Kory Wilcoxson, Crestwood Christian Church, Lexington: Honoring the Sabbath is the only commandment Jesus doesn't reaffirm, but there is still value in observing it.

Taking a full day for rest is ideal, but I have more success observing what I call "Sabbath moments," oases within my day that allow me to simply be still and know that God is God (and I am not).

It may be while reading a book, spending time with my family or exercising. What I'm doing or not doing is of secondary importance. What is most important is that I'm doing it with God as my companion.

Myron Williams, Southland Christian Church, Lexington: In Genesis when God completed creation, God rested. This means the first day man and woman were alive was a day of rest.

Many other faith systems have a day of rest as part of their beliefs. Nature teaches us there are seasons of production and seasons of rest.

Americans do not rest well. We leave vacation days on the table, check work e-mail while on vacation. Maybe we do this because of our Puritan work ethic, maybe it's because of our bottom-line concerns, or maybe it's because we simply have not taken time to adequately understand why God established this cycle for life.

Bob Evely, Grace Evangel Fellowship, Wilmore: It is interesting that the Apostle Paul fought the law throughout his ministry, and it appears within the church that the law won.

Here is something rarely considered. The law (including Sabbath observation) was commanded of Israel, not the body of Christ.

If an individual desires to take one specific day and honor God in some way on that day, let him do so.

Churches place great guilt on people for not attending church, or not tithing or not honoring the Sabbath — yet in heaping these requirements upon people they are adding to the Gospel, and it is a distorted Gospel that most churches proclaim today.

Alex Grigg, atheist: As an atheist, I take my day of rest quite seriously. In fact, I try to make sure I take two every week.

I don't do this because a book or a god told me to, but rather because I enjoy the chance to put my body and mind at ease after a week of labor.

Dale White, St. Luke Anglican Church, Lexington: I attribute apathy concerning the Sabbath day to what I call the "me" syndrome. We have become a people obsessed with ourselves, so whatever we must do to fulfill our own desires, we do.

In order to satisfy our shopping urges, businesses must be open more hours. People must work in those businesses to cater to our shopaholic tendencies.

We have confined God to the back room of our lives. We are so busy with us, that we do not make time to spend with Him.

If we took time to just do nothing with God on Sundays, and to rediscover his goodness and love, our empty desires for all of these short-lived pleasures would diminish.

It's important for our health to take a weekly sabbatical from the pressures of the world and be reminded that real life is not found in our workaday world, but instead in those still, small, quiet moments we invest in our eternal salvation and relationship with the God who provides it all.

Roger Bruner, Mill Street Church of Christ, London: God's spiritual blessings were foreordained from the foundation of the Word.

These spiritual blessings are only in Christ, and they are conditional upon one's obedience to the commandments that Jesus gave to the apostles, which they preached to all in the Gospel message as they went into all the world.

God cares for all his creation, but his intent is that they might become his children.