As we talk about Sabbath, it's important to realize that the one thing that is under attack more than anything else in our world is our rest.
This time of year, it's tempting to think that the whole Christian notion is under attack. We hear about wars on Christmas - about tearing down nativity scenes and banning them from public places and worshiping Santa and Rudolph more than the baby Jesus. We hear about how you aren't supposed to even say "Merry Christmas" any more, but go with the more politically correct "Happy Holidays," although even that's a little touchy in some places, I guess.
But that's all just a distraction. The world doesn't really care if you worship Jesus; it knows that we all worship something, whether it wants to admit that or not. But what the world cares about is when you live your life in a way that directly challenges the things that it is trying to place value on. And that's not Jesus - it's rest.
Rest flies in the face of everything the world stands for. The world is all about more, more, more - more commitment, more time, more work, more of everything. Rest settles into what it has and says that it's enough.
And the world just can't stand that.
That's why not that long ago (relatively speaking), the world opened itself up on Sundays. It carved out a place and then, it told you that that place was good and holy. That you could go out and have an "old-fashioned" family dinner by patronizing a restaurant after church. And then, it wasn't long until it was too easy to get you from the restaurant to the gas station. And then the grocery store. And then the department store. And now, well, you just go anywhere you want to on Sunday because it's "just another day."
Then, the world told you that you needed to work on Sunday. That it was okay for you to miss church because you'd be serving your neighbors and your community by doing your regular job during church hours. You don't need to worship; you "worship" God by serving His children by stocking those shelves or packaging those products for those who need them.
Then, it started signing your kids up for travel leagues and competitions that only happen...you guessed it...on Sundays. Because the world just can't stand your family settling down into anything; it's got to always keep you moving, just like it thinks it is, and that means that it has to draw you away from your places of rest. From your real worship. And again, it will tell you that this is good. That God wants you to engage with all of these things. That God wants your kids to "be a witness" on that travel team...by skipping church to play sports. By skipping rest to be active.
Did you notice this year how many places were closed on Thanksgiving Day? One chain even made it a point to say that they're "never" going to be open on Thanksgiving Day ever again! They're going to make this change permanent! And it seems that everyone has forgotten how it was only a few years ago that everywhere was closed on Thanksgiving Day. "Early Thursday Night Doorbusters" has only been a "thing" for a handful of years, but now, the world wants you to know that it's shutting back down.
Not so that you can have rest, really, because hey, we're still open online. You should stay at home with your family and still engage in commerce, spend all of your time connected to your little box and oh, so busy finding the best deals. This isn't rest. The world didn't give you Thanksgiving Day back so that you could settle in; it still keeps drawing you out into the hustle and bustle of it all, but gives you the space to make all the spreadsheets you need to track deals and coupon codes and pick-up times from the comfort of your own desk.
The world pretended to offer you rest but was actually just bringing busyness into your last sanctuary - your sacred time with family.
Do you get it? Rest, as a practice, is under assault. It has been for a long time, and the world doesn't want you to recognize it. The world doesn't want you to know that's what it's doing.
And that is precisely why Sabbath is so important. Because it's the one thing about our holy lives that the world has truly gone full-out assault on. It's the one thing the world consistently wages war again. This world doesn't really care if you believe in Jesus or not. "You do you."
But don't you dare find rest. It's the one thing our world will not tolerate.