I don’t often quote Katy Perry in church, but I did recently. She told Cosmopolitan, ‘I’d love if the world implemented an actual day of real rest’. What would such a day look like? ‘I wish there was a thing like Shabbat… a kind of worldwide day where we’re not on our phones’. In an era of hyper connectivity, there’s an increasing realisation that a constant diet of beeps and notifications demanding our intention can’t be healthy. In fact, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system was released on Monday with a headline feature called Screen Time, which lets you keep track on exactly how much you’re using your iPhone or iPad. Many of us are probably too scared to look. The technology of which we thought we were master has quickly made us its slaves. If you don’t have a phone, just apply it to TV. Could you go a day without it?
The idea of a worldwide day when we could put aside such distractions and focus on what’s truly important sounds like a pipe dream, but it’s actually part of God’s design for the world. Perry references ‘Shabbat’ – the Jewish day of rest. But the Sabbath is no merely Jewish institution. It was put in place at the creation of the world, long before there were any Jews – in fact, before sin had even entered the world. Jesus himself reminds us that ‘The Sabbath was made for man’ – not just for one particular group of people.
Katy Perry said she would love to have such a day. But she does – if only she would realise it. It’s one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity – enshrined in the 10 commandments, and observed by God’s people in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It’s a reminder, both of the fact that God made us (and rested on the seventh day), and that Jesus died (and rose again on the first day) so we could be freed from the agenda of a dying world.
Removing the Lord’s Day from our culture removes a weekly reminder of the reality of creation – and of the need for redemption.
Ultimately, it’s a question of worship. Simon and Garfunkel sum up the choice of many: ‘And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made’. When you wake up on Sunday, who are you going to serve?
Stephen Steele, Stranraer RPCS
Published in the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, 20th September 2018.