Sometimes the Most Spiritual Thing You Can Do Is Take a Nap

July 25, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Alex McFarland | Tue 24 Jul 2018 6:47 EDT

Have you ever considered your theology regarding R&R? It may be something we think about often, but Christians should make time to get rest for the body and the soul. Acts 3:19 speaks of “times of refreshing” that accompany (and follow) salvation in Christ. This refers primarily to the state of being in right relationship with God, and that ultimately believers will spend eternity in heaven with Him. But the Greek word most often translated as “refreshing” in English Bibles is a word for “breathing easily” or being “revived with fresh air.”

If you know Christ, reflect for a moment on what a blessed state you enjoy as a born-again person right this moment! Allow your standing in Jesus to lift your heart and fill you with rejoicing! Think of it—you are cleared of guilt before the Father; indwelt, filled, empowered by and sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, and secure in the hand of Jesus Himself (John 10:28). We weren’t saved by works and we aren’t kept by works. But by Jesus’ inexplicable and immeasurable grace toward us, we are now friends of God (c.f., Romans 8:1; Ephesians 2:8; John 15:15).

Hebrews 4:10 speaks of Christians having entered into “God’s rest.” In our world today, it is very hard for Christians to slow down, unplug, calm one’s mind and . . . rest. In reality, resting is a privilege and is, in fact, a discipline much needed in every Christian’s life.

Some might object to a call for rest, reasoning that because the world at this moment is so dark and sinful, Christians should work all that much harder to spread the Gospel. The great minister Vance Havner (very influential in the life of Evangelist Billy Graham) once preached on the stewardship responsibility of getting proper rest. Dr. Havner said that it was right for Christians to plan for times of rest and vacation, and that not to do so was unwise. A lady came up and piously objected, “Well, you know the devil never sleeps! The devil never takes a vacation!” Dr. Havner responded, “Since when am I supposed to be like the devil?”

The great thinker Aquinas spoke on the appropriateness of rest, even giving his inimitable Thomistic “thumbs up” to “sports” and “entertainments.” Of course, in the Middle Ages, St. Thomas wasn’t speaking of the NFL or ESPN. But even then, there was the question of whether or not it was OK for Christians to play games or do things just for pure fun.

Aquinas noted that our main purpose in life was to think on God, experience His presence and to worship our Triune Lord. Aquinas said that because rest and “fun” activities can leave us refreshed and prepared to resume thinking on God all the more effectively, then such things were appropriate.

Aquinas, John Wesley and other Christian leaders (Pat Robertson, for example, in the modern era) have recognized that getting proper rest is both a stewardship issue and a spiritual discipline. Aquinas believed that excesses (think materialism, gluttony, drunkenness, workaholism) were issues of temperance. He said that sins against temperance are among the most disgraceful “because they make us most like the irrational beasts.”

So, let’s re-humanize ourselves by heeding God’s call to rest. For you, that may mean taking a fast from technology (try it—power down your cellphone for 24 hours!). Take a break from bingeing on video games or watching hours of cat videos on YouTube. Be honest about your propensity to busy-ness, or even to work-a-holism. Slow down, meditate on Jesus, quietly read Scripture, listen for the still small voice and ask God for rest.

As a wise, elderly preacher from Kentucky once said to me, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”

Alex McFarland is a speaker, writer and advocate for Christian apologetics. He serves as director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University, a leading Christian college in the United States. He has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout North America and internationally and has preached in more than 1,300 churches.
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