Friday, January 13, 2006

Sleep: God's Glory and Our Good

How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good?

This is the first question posed by the Christian Vision Project, a three-year undertaking by Christianity Today in their magazine as well as in their other publications Books & Culture and Leadership Journal. This question will serve as the basis for a year's worth of articles in these various publications; the successive years will have their own theme question. I receive Christianity Today as well as Books & Culture, and I've loved both articles that I've read on this matter. Christianity Today featured an article by Michael Horton entitled "How the Kingdom Comes," which isn't available online, but which I encourage you to seek out when you're next at Barnes & Noble.

Lauren Winner wrote the first article under this theme for Books & Culture, one entitled "Sleep Therapy" (which you can read online). Winner is one of my favorite modern-day writers on Christianity; her book Girl Meets God traces her journey from orthodox Judaism to orthodox Christianity, and is a book I'm always recommending.

In answer to the question of what can Christians do to be a positive force for good in our culture, Winner suggests that we sleep.

Sleep more: this may seem a curious answer to the question of what Christians can do for the common good. Surely one could come up with something more other-directed, more sacrificial, less self-serving.

She writes that she chose this answer because "many of us trade sleep for productivity," though in actuality that trade-off is more like a rip-off. And unlike a more "grand" answer to this question, the choice to sleep more is within our power this very evening. She enumerates the benefits of proper rest, and argues that submitting to our need for rest testifies to our faith in God's order.

A night of good sleep . . . also testifies to the basic Christian story of Creation. We are creatures, with bodies that are finite and contingent. . . . The unarguable demands that our bodies make for sleep are a good reminder that we are mere creatures, not the Creator. For it is God and God alone who "neither slumbers nor sleeps."

She concludes the article with a strong argument appealing to the incarnate Christ, who slept while on earth, and wonders if our resolve to go without the sleep we need is more serious than simply neglect - it is, perhaps, a defiance and denial of God's design.

I found this article strong in both theology and practicality (two categories which should always go together). While I do typically get a good night's rest, this article reminded me of why I ought to be getting a good night's rest. It's for the glory of God, and, mysteriously and wonderfully, that glory always has great good for me.


Blogger The Godfather said...

Sleep? I like to sleep too but I am a man that has to go out and work for a living and try and raise my family. Not sure how you get all the time to sleep. Maybe your husbands out working who knows but anyhow this brings me to this... Ok um, check out my blog too. It is an interesting blog about opinions on women, relationships whatever. I got your blog by searching different blogs but I am trying to get people to check it out

Thanks Dave

5:39 PM  
Blogger Beverly said...

GIRL MEETS GOD has become one of my favorite books. I've bought and given copies to several of my friends. I found her article on sleep interesting as well.

I came upon your blog through "Dappled Things," and I find myself checking every day to see what you've entered.

I too am a graduate of BJU...but much longer ago than you young ladies. Keep up the good work on your blog.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Bet said...

Interesting article, Andrea. I too enjoyed Girl Meets God, and I appreciate the practicality of Winner's advice. If I don't get the sleep I need, I am truly not able to do during the day what I should. The point is well made that to believe we can do without sleep is to forget we are the creature. Well put!

And I'm glad Beverly found her way over here! When did you graduate from BJU, Beverly? I wish I could claim the "young lady" title, but alas, I'm past that now. :)

3:05 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Thanks for visiting, Beverly! I'm glad to "meet" another BJ grad. :-)

6:44 PM  

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