When Christianity began, paganism was the dominant form of worship. Pagan worship considered any work as bad. But our God got his hands dirty, reaching down and created “man from the dust of the earth” (Gen 2:7). In the next verse (v8), God goes on to “plant”, not just create, the Garden of Eden. Also notice in the creation story of Genisis 1, He also stopped his work six times, stepped back and said that the work he had just done was “good”. And then He took a day off.
Now stop for a moment and think about three things. If God can do anything with a snap of his fingers – why take six days? On the first day God merely said, “let there be light”, and there was light. And if God is this powerful, why did he “rest” after the sixth day? And lastly, what was it that made the work for each day of creation to be regarded as good? Let us focus on that last question first.
What does it mean that God’s labor was consistently good? On the first day, when the light was separated from the darkness, “God saw that the light was good”. 1 John 1:5 says God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. Darkness symbolizes the opposite of what God is; all things that are negative, harmful, evil and fearful. Light is good. And good is something that is not evil. Since we are made in God’s image, for our work to be good work, it needs to be free of darkness.
Luke 10:38-42 tells the story of Martha and Mary. Martha probably saw herself as doing good work, she was busy preparing the house for the Lord, complaining that Mary was not helping. Jesus admonishes Martha not for the actual work, but rather her focus. While Mary’s focus on listening to Him was regarded as good. We called to be Mary people while living in a Martha world.
A second point of God taking six days suggests our goals probably should not be seen as isolated events. Completing one good thing does not mean our work is concluded. But rather that we may now be in a good position to do even more, but perhaps in a different direction.
Our third question was, “If God was not tired, why did He rest”? One of the common definitions of the Hebrew word shabat is “to cease” or “stop.” In Genesis 2:2, the understanding is that God stopped His work; He ceased creating. God re-emphasized the importance of this the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” Sabbath rest is a time to reaffirm that He is at the center of all we do, so we can do “good work”. Not letting our Martha nature, steal our Mary Sabbath rest.
My prayer is that we stay committed to seeking a deepening personal and honest relationship through good work, which then leads us into celebrating our time of Sabbath rest. AMEN.