Whether you are religious or not the Sabbath was and is an integral part of Judeo-Christian life. A Jewish Sabbath is from Friday evening sunset to Saturday Sunset and a Christian Sabbath is Sunday daylight hours.
In this modern new and trendy, 24/7 western World, are we missing out and shooting ourselves in the foot or cutting off our nose to spite our faces?
In the Christian West we had a Sunday day’s rest thrust upon us whatever our beliefs were but at the permitting of all day trading on a Sunday, few people have a day’s rest any more.
While rest is actually a very difficult thing to master, the busier humans are the harder it is for them to stop and do little or nothing, we get itchy feet when attempting to rest for a whole day, when you aren’t sick. As humans the business of today’s life makes rest a very difficult thing to achieve.
I tried to keep a day’s rest each week and for 6 weeks I would feel almost tormented by the prospects of resting for a whole day, by rest I attempted the Biblical principles of refraining from work (including gardening, driving etc.) I also attempted to refrain from my own pleasures such as going to the football or cinema and I can tell you that for 6 long weeks the day of rest was not much of treat at all.
After the 6 week period and retraining my mind had finished I actually found myself looking forward to a day’s rest and no longer dreading it. Each week after the 6 week period the thought of a real day’s rest was exciting and a major part of the week.
I could never understand why humanity felt it so necessary to rest as much as they did but as with most other Biblical rules science discovered that a day’s rest in the week was vital for the health of human welfare as it regenerated cells and repaired itself over the day on which we rested. It also gives rest to our minds so that we were able to keep them healthy as well.
When we look at the plight of modern Western man we see them struggling with ill-health and mental health disorders like never before, it could be that it is simply because of a lack of day’s rest. As life gets faster and busier our bodies and minds are working at a pace that perhaps evolution hasn’t caught up with yet or a creator never intended.
The sabbath was also a great time to reflect on our behavior reading spiritual and religious writings which was like a vitamin pill for our spiritual wellbeing, when I say spiritual I am not being some sort of meditational hippy I mean it in the well-rounded sense of the word seeing as the concept mind, body and soul has been lost to just mind and body as soul is clumped in with mind, but anyone that knows anything about anything knows that our emotions are not a mental issue.
After much research over many years it would seem that there was a Greek mentality of working hard that was passed on to the Romans and it was in turn one of the main causes for anti-Semitism towards the Jews who had not only 1 day a week for resting but also many festivals with encouraged rest throughout the year, this made the Jews seem lazy to the hard-working Greek and Roman ideology. What bugged them even more was that even with this rest that they would have they always seemed to prosper financially. When I say financially we have to think back to the old ways of wealth such as live stock and land etc.
This anti rest mentality is still alive and well today as when I spoke with some people in rural England about why they have such little time for God (the concept seemed non-existent there) the response was that they are so used to working hard to achieve that God has no place in self-sufficiency. My thoughts towards this was that if God does bless those that rest then they wouldn’t have to work so hard to achieve if they did have time for God, so it’s a vicious cycle they perhaps placed themselves into.
There is, even from the old records of Cain and Able, an issue between those that work hard and get little and those that work less and get more and this seems to be the case today, where somehow someone who works harder than someone else deems their own human self-worth more worthy than someone who has time for rest.
Perhaps the rest is where the key is? Let us take the concept of God blessing men for keeping the Sabbath (a Biblical claim) and let us merely look at this from a physical level. I mentioned earlier that the human body thrives on rest for repair and rejuvenation. Let us assume for one minute that like athletes who rest their muscles during training in order to be more competitive, this same concept works with perhaps productivity as a farmer or banker or builder.
I used to wonder why English builders where notorious for tea breaks and seemed to always work slowly and be taking breaks, that was until I did a stint as working in the building trade. I rushed in feet first hardly resting and working “Hard” by the third day I was fit for nothing and it was at that point that I realised why they worked at the pace they did, it was so that they could pace themselves for the work at hand.
Perhaps we are not pacing ourselves properly for the lifespan at hand? We are putting children into schools earlier and earlier, we are working children harder and harder in education settings and extra curricular activities because we are scared that they will be lazy or unsuccessful yet perhaps we are setting them up to fail by giving them burnout. By the time these children have reached 30 the chances are that they have worked hard and tirelessly for 27 years and with a pace like that I’m not surprised that after 30 years people begin to suffer with illness, sickness, mental health disorders, marital breakdowns etc.
There is also research into things such as a women’s menstrual cycle and the benefits of a complete day’s rest in order to maintain a balanced healthy body.
So it seems to me that the Western world swapping their rest for a hard-working, hard playing mentality has only shot themselves in the foot.
I mentioned earlier the concept of cutting of their nose to spite their face regarding not having a day’s rest. What I meant by this was that because of our zero interest in religion and our rejection of Christianity from our culture we have rejected the sabbath day’s rest to our own detriment. Rejecting the religion but so much so everything that is helpful within that religion to our welfare and health.
Perhaps what we need is a 24/6 mentality rather than a 24/7 one?
Rest is vital not virtual.