What is the Christian attitude to leisure? Is the old identification of holidays and holy days still valid, or is the subject of no religious significance at all?

The Opposition To Leisure

Some Christians—especially those in the Puritan tradition—have had little interest in holidays. Holidays to them have seemed largely a waste of time, and in their noble miserliness with their moments leisure has almost been deemed a sin.

John Wesley said as a young man: “Leisure and I have parted company. I am resolved to be busy till I die.” He was busy till he died. That amazing resolution of his youth he kept to old age, and he only ceased to work when he ceased to live.

But I am bold to say that John Wesley’s opposition to leisure was mistaken, and if anybody feels that that is a severe judgment on a great man, I would point them to the greatest example of all. It was Jesus who said to his disciples: “Come ye yourselves apart … and rest a while.”

Leisure Has Its Place

A normal man who never rests (and John Wesley was not a normal man) gets taut, overwrought, strained and ultimately breaks down. Leisure has its place in life. There is a rhythmic law underlying all existence; an ebb and flow; a movement of periodicity. And in that ebb and flow, work and leisure both have a place.

It is with the mind as with the soil. If you want to get the best out of your land, you must change the crops and sometimes even let the land lie fallow. One who never slackens the bow becomes at the last a work-ridden neurotic.

Moreover, modern life is going to provide more leisure than the mass of people have ever known before. The burden of work is to be borne increasingly by the machine. Despite the urgency of the ...

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