“Occupation” Session 6:

Escaping Materialism

Read pages 201-233 of Garden City before beginning this lesson.


Rest as Freedom

If we have been given the gift of rest, it is a result of our freedom. The first time that Israel was commanded to observe the Sabbath was immediately following their liberation from slavery in Egypt. Sabbath was given to Israel as a reward of their freedom, as well as a warning to stay away from the way of life that they learned in Egypt. In the modern world, we see the Egyptian system of “more is never enough” in every aspect of our society. It manifests itself in the temptation to do more or get more, regardless of the cost.

1. Which of these temptations seems more appealing to you? Are you addicted to what you can get out of working or are you addicted to work itself?

2. Discuss the pitfalls of this way of life in your small group.

 

Avoiding Egypt

The Sabbath is about leaving the bondage of Egypt behind to experience the freedom of rest. However, modern technology makes the escape from Egypt practically impossible. Think about how much you work when you’re supposed to be “off the clock.” Work is as close to us as the device that sits on our bedside table. Take some time this week to pay attention to the allure of work and try to resist the urge to check your email or send that last message before bed. Remember that you cannot work 24/7. Our goal in work is not to work more to get more. That mindset is slavery. We are called to partner with God in creating culture and then sitting back and enjoying the world around us.

1. Sabbath is about saying “yes” to God. What changes do you need to make in order to avoid getting stuck into slavery to work?

2. Discuss some practical ways that you can unplug and enjoy the freedom of Sabbath.

 

Separating Work and Rest

1. Take a minute to discuss the definitions of work and rest. Is there a black and white difference between these two activities, or is there a gray area? Is running work? What about mowing the lawn? Depending on who you are, you might answer these questions differently.

2. Now ask yourself this follow-up question: Is it life-giving? Is it worship?

3. If the answer to these follow-up questions is “yes,” then go for it! Engage in activities that give you life and lead you into restful worship on your Sabbath!

4. What kinds of activities might these be for you? Brainstorm possible Sabbath activities within your small group.

Rules for Sabbath

If you look at the Gospels, you will find that Jesus was a bit of a rebel when it came to observing the Sabbath. Certainly, it wasn’t because He didn’t value it. In fact, He was the one who came up with the idea for Sabbath in the first place! Jesus did not have a problem with rest. He had a problem with religion. First-century Jews got into trouble by creating too many rules for the Sabbath—so many rules that the Sabbath became oppressive to people. In Twenty-first century America, we have the exact opposite problem. We have no rules for the Sabbath.

1. Take a look at John Mark Comer’s “rules” for the Sabbath on pages 224 and 225 of Garden City. Draft your own set of “rules” for your Sabbath with your small group. (If you are married, break off with your spouse to discuss your rules with them first.)

2. Try these rules out on your next Sabbath. If you haven’t decided when your Sabbath should be, take some time to nail it down. You will be surprised how life-giving it can be!