Tod Bolsinger, Pastor at San Clemente Pres., and I have been having a dialogue regarding rest and vacations.
Here is the gist of his perspective:
It is this understanding of Sabbath as communion that leads us to re-cast our leisure time from a “vacating” as Brad called it, to a time of recreation—re-creation. I want to encourage Christians to have far more restful, peaceful, relational, educational, experiential, and dare I say, spiritual vacations by re-connecting them to creation. I have become deeply aware of how truly stressed out and disconnected from the Earth, our own souls and each other we become through the hurly burly of every day life.
This is why I have been critical of media as escape, video games as leisure, and amusement parks or Las Vegas excursions as the sole focus of our vacation time. That is not to say that a day at Disneyland is somehow “unchristian.” (I actually like roller coasters a lot.) I just want to challenge Christian families to reconsider their next trip to a resort where they will sit by a pool with a waterslide and spend too much on umbrella drinks when they could be snorkeling in a reef, hiking to a waterfall or looking for wildlife in a national park. I have also challenged Christian families to use their vacation time for mission trips, cross-cultural excursions or opportunities to see and reflect on more of the world.
I would make the following comments on Tod’s perspective.
I really think this topic is important in the American church. I would like to make one little challenge to Tod's perspective of "Sabbath". How did Jesus spend the Sabbath? One answer is in all the healing stories. He did good. So, a great way to get peace and rest is to "Do unto others". Our true rest is from self-centeredness and into otherliness. Under the New Covenant, we can enter this Sabbath of deliverance from self-centeredness every day. In fact, we ought to strive to enter into this rest.
I believe your model for leisure time is still really a therapeutic model. Our souls find true rest not in leisure or recovery time but in taking His yoke upon us and learning a new way of living day by day that is based entirely on "doing the will of God" and being of service to others. Jesus said just this in John 4 when He said “my food is to do the will of the Father”. Jesus was replenished and nourished by doing good and ministering to others. If doing good and ministering to others doesn't bring us rest, then we are still doing these things out of some self seeking pride or self-centered fear.
I am challenging your readers to possibly re-evaluate the foundation upon which we really live. If our daily life produces stress, this is a serious spiritual problem. The answer is in learning a new foundation to build upon by seeking to walk in the spiritual principles of Jesus.
thanks for the dialogue,