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Leading Question: How does rest make us stronger and more efficient?

Our theme this week focuses on rest and restoration. These are key biblical passages to consider:

1. Weekly rest, nightly rest, daily work: Genesis 2:2-3, Genesis 15. In the early chapters of Genesis, God provided for daily rest by turning off the lights at night; but he also gave us a weekly Sabbath, a full 24 hours of rest. It’s clear that he expected Adam and Eve to be involved in productive labor. But to what extent does the daily rest and the weekly rest enhance our ability to function during the non-resting times of the day and week? Is one more important that the other? The daily rest is more rigorously “enforced” by natural forces; the weekly rest is very much a matter of personal choice. But that choice enhance its usefulness?

2. Urgent rest interrupted: Mark 6:30-46. In the interest of encouraging a more balanced life, one that is not always haunted by the specter of continuous work, Christians have appealed to Jesus’ words to the disciples when he told them to come away and get some rest. But there is a problem with the Gospel story: Jesus and his disciples didn’t actually get any rest! The people tracked down the Master; he had compassion on them; he taught them; he fed them. To what extent should we allow our down time, our vacation time, to be interrupted by human needs? If we never actual get any rest, aren’t we at risk of collapse, or at least at risk of diminished effectiveness?

3. Rest for all creatures: Exodus 23:12. To ancient Israel, God declared the Sabbath to be a time of rest not only for his chosen people, but also for their slaves and their animals. To what extent should believers seek to shape our modern world so that everyone can get some rest? Adventists have been reluctant to support even non-religious Sunday legislation. But are their alternatives that would encourage our hectic culture to be more restful?

4. Spiritual rest: Matthew 11:28-30. Come and I will give you rest, says Jesus, and not just physical rest. How does one arrive at the kind of contentment which Jesus’ statement suggests? What is it about following Jesus that could and should give us rest for our souls? To what extent is the knowledge that Jesus is God incarnate give us the kind of perspective on God that would allow us to rest content rather than constantly trying to prove ourselves to him (and to ourselves!)?

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