Guest / Limited Access /
The 'Above All' Commandment of the Sabbath

When most of us think of Lent, we immediately think about giving something up—sugar, TV, radio, you name it. Although this season is marked by abstinence, it also can be the busiest time in the church calendar. In many traditions, Lent is packed with special services and religious practices to help us focus on the life of Christ—more prayer, more devotional reading, more church services. But for what purpose?

One obvious answer: These activities help deepen our devotion to Jesus Christ. But if we're honest, we also do these things in part because we believe that they contribute to our sanctification. After all, in order to become more like Christ, you have to imitate him, right?

Amid all the devotion, however, the last thing we think of adding to our Lenten disciplines is observing the Sabbath. This is surprising, since the Bible seems to teach that rest may be the most significant and transformative activity of all.

An 'Above All' Command

It is difficult, and ironic, to imagine rest as the most transformative element in the Christian life. For evangelicals especially, transformation and sanctification are closely linked to activity. We appropriately begin with the idea that our works do not merit justification (being declared righteous by God). We can do nothing to earn our salvation. But most of us imagine we must play an active role in our sanctification, the ongoing process of becoming more like Christ. Sanctification, we assume, involves work and effort on our part.

This is good news to evangelical ears. We like activities. We conduct Bible studies, participate in small groups, and attend prayer meetings. We engage in worship services and outreach. We like inspirational books that ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only More Media
More media of note.
RecommendedAnn Voskamp: We Must Trade Charity for Solidarity
Ann Voskamp: We Must Trade Charity for Solidarity
An excerpt from The Broken Way
TrendingSpeak Truth to Trump
Speak Truth to Trump
Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump's blatant immorality.
Editor's PickThe Best Ways to Help the Poor
The Best Ways to Help the Poor
A new book, building on three classics, fills out the picture.
Christianity Today
The 'Above All' Commandment of the Sabbath
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.