“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…” – Exodus 20:8-10a
God says to his people, “six days you shall labor and do all your work.” I wonder what His people were thinking when they heard these words come from Moses. For years, they had worked seven days a week in Egypt. They were slaves under Pharaoh, and the scriptures tell us that the slavery was harsh enough for the people to cry out to God. (And He heard their cry, sent Moses to liberate them, etc). Several miracles later, they stand in front of Mount Sinai and hear ten commandments…God-values that will shape this unique community. But were they expecting to hear that part? Six days we shall work? Not four or even the Western five days? Only recently have I asked the question as to why God mentions work at all…especially to a group of ex-slaves.
Years ago, I sat in a session at Passion’s Thirsty Conference for college leaders. Shelley Giglio (reluctantly) led a breakout session. One thing she said that stuck with me: work is spiritual. I am a witness to this statement as being a great part of Passion’s ethos. Everyone who works for them really works. The conferences, sixsteps label, the local church, etc all happen because their little team works hard, and God blesses the work of the hands. I have learned from people like Shelley over the years that God values work.
Isn’t it interesting the way God reveals himself through scripture…not as a philosopher or magician. In Genesis 1-2, God is both an artist and sculptor. God the Son, Jesus is a carpenter, a traveling rabbi and healer; oddly mistaken in John 20 to be a gardener. God the Spirit, is not passive, but working within us and even interceding for us. And what of the people who God calls. Adam is created and placed in the garden to work it and keep it. Moses is a shepherd. And the disciples were fishermen, tax-collectors, political activists and more. It seems to me that God not only values work, but He is willing to get His own hands dirty. Furthermore, He expects His people to work as well…for 6 days apparently.
Sabbath is a day of rest, but not simply from the work…it is more so FOR the work. Sabbath is not an escape from the work, it is meant to give the work we do for 6 days meaning. Our six days are meant to push us into Sabbath, and then Sabbath is meant to push us into the 6 days. Our calling as the people of God is not just to make a big deal out of one day, but all seven. Which may be why Paul later tells us “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Work and worship are two sides of the same coin. The goal is for both to be done well, for the glory of God. That is why the six days matter to God. The part of our faith expression that the world will encounter the most will not be our great church programs or our edgy music. Our first great opportunity to witness to the name and love of Jesus may be showing up for work on time.
Set your alarm. Be faithful. Make Jesus famous today.