Have you ever considered your theology regarding R&R? Work is a good thing. So also is resting from work (taking a nap?).
[don’t miss the video below]
On a day when we take a break to honor our American workforce, let’s take a minute to think not only about what it means to get rest for the body but also about rest for the soul.
Acts 3:19 speaks of “times of refreshing” that accompany (and follow) salvation in Christ. This refers primarily to the state of being in right relationship with God, and that ultimately believers will spend eternity in heaven with Him.
Refreshing, Reflecting, Rejoicing = Rest
The Greek word most often translated as “refreshing” in English Bibles is a word for “breathing easily” or being “revived with fresh air.”
If you know Christ, reflect for a moment on what a blessed state you enjoy as a born-again person right this moment! Allow your standing in Jesus to lift your heart and fill you with rejoicing! Think of it—you are cleared of guilt before the Father; indwelt, filled, empowered by and sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, and secure in the hand of Jesus Himself (John 10:28). We weren’t saved by works and we aren’t kept by works. But by Jesus’ inexplicable and immeasurable grace toward us, we are now friends of God (c.f., Romans 8:1; Ephesians 2:8; John 15:15).
Entering into Rest
Hebrews 4:10 speaks of Christians having entered into “God’s rest.” In our world today, it is very hard for Christians to slow down, unplug, calm one’s mind and . . . rest. In reality, resting is a privilege and is, in fact, a discipline much needed in every Christian’s life.
Some might object to a call for rest, reasoning that because the world at this moment is so dark and sinful, Christians should work all that much harder to spread the Gospel. The great minister Vance Havner (very influential in the life of Evangelist Billy Graham) once preached on the stewardship responsibility of getting proper rest. Dr. Havner said that it was right for Christians to plan for times of rest and vacation and not to do so was unwise. A lady came up and piously objected, “Well, you know the devil never sleeps! The devil never takes a vacation!” Dr. Havner responded, “Since when am I supposed to be like the devil?”
The great thinker Aquinas spoke on the appropriateness of rest, even giving his inimitable Thomistic “thumbs up” to “sports” and “entertainments.” Of course, in the Middle Ages, St. Thomas wasn’t speaking of the NFL or ESPN. But even then, there was the question of whether or not it was OK for Christians to play games or do things just for pure fun.
Aquinas noted that our main purpose in life is to think on God, experience His presence, and to worship our Triune Lord. Aquinas said that because rest and “fun” activities can leave us refreshed and prepared to resume thinking on God all the more effectively, then such things are appropriate.
Aquinas, John Wesley and other Christian leaders (Pat Robertson, for example, in the modern era) have recognized that getting proper rest is both a stewardship issue and a spiritual discipline. Aquinas believed that excesses (think materialism, gluttony, drunkenness, workaholism) were issues of temperance. He said that sins against temperance are among the most disgraceful “because they make us most like the irrational beasts.”
Rest and Refresh
So, let’s re-humanize ourselves by heeding God’s call to rest. For you, that may mean taking a fast from technology (try it—power down your cell phone for 24 hours!). Take a break from bingeing on video games or watching hours of cat videos on YouTube. Be honest about your propensity to busy-ness, or even to work-a-holism. Slow down, meditate on Jesus, quietly read Scripture, listen for the still small voice and ask God for rest.
As a wise, elderly preacher from Kentucky once said to me, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”
And remember the Greek word most often translated as “refreshing” in English Bibles is a word for “breathing easily” or being “revived with fresh air.” Watch this short video and BREATHE!
Alex McFarland is a speaker, writer, author, educator, and advocate for Christian Apologetics. He serves as director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Greenville, South Carolina and as organizer of the Truth for a New Generation Conferences. He also co-hosts the radio program “Exploring the Word,” airing weekdays on American Family Radio. For more information about Alex’s speaking ministry, or to book him to speak at an event, visit www.alexmcfarland.com.
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