Ease and Worship: A Gleaning

Ease and Sabbath:

Gleaning from Crossan’s God and Empire

By Allan Roy Andrews

Faith at ease, an idea I seek to communicate in these entries, is teased out wonderfully in John Dominic Crossan’s book, God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome Then and Now (HarperOne, 2007).

The book is Crossan’s reasoned apologetic for justice and against violence, much of it built on the ambiguities of Jesus’ way and the unambiguous errors of power.

I’m not certain I buy into Crossan’s largely demythologized interpretations of the historical Jesus, but along the way he emphasizes a wonderful Creation exegesis that lays a fundamental case for a faith at ease.

Here’s Crossan’s powerful argument:

In the Genesis Creation narrative, God blesses and hallows the seventh day, Crossan notes. Importantly, this blessing is surrounded with the assertion that God “rested from all the work he had done.” Genesis 2:2-3 hammers home this announcement of God’s resting by relating it three times.

Humanity is created on the sixth day and given dominion over the heretofore created order. However, as Crossan astutely points out, the culmination of Creation does not come with the making of man and woman. Instead, the creation of Sabbath rest is the acme of the Creation narrative.

“It is not humanity on the sixth day but the Sabbath on the seventh day that is the climax of creation,” Crossan writes. “And therefore our ‘dominion’ over the world is not ownership but stewardship under the God of the Sabbath” (God and Empire, 53).

The powerful lesson of the story, Crossan underscores, is that “The Sabbath Day was not rest for worship but rest as worship” (God and Empire, 54).

This is from where a faith at ease draws its inspiration and strength: rest as worship.

Martin Luther, in his writings if not in his actions, sought to underscore this emphasis by insisting salvation and justification rest on faith and not on deeds. I think if we drill deep enough we can conclude that any general resistance to Luther’s stand will disclose itself as being built on a conviction and claim that such a faith is too easy.

You mean, the argument flows, there is nothing for me to do?

Crossan helps us see that ease and worship are precisely the point. Be at leisure and know I am God.

Of course, once I grasp this, I have plenty to do.

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