A Digital Sabbath

A digital sabbath is the title of one of the chapter’s in David Robertson’s book: What Would Jesus Post?

For Christians the sabbath is a day of worship in which we specifically endeavour to focus on worshipping God. Some might describe it also as a day of rest from work. Although in our modern culture there are many who do have to work on that day.

David Robertson aims in this chapter to get the reader to focus on the idea of a digital sabbath. He asks us to consider how we might change our online behaviour on the sabbath to mark the day out as holy to God.

I expect that the idea of a digital sabbath is one that many of us have not previously considered. We naturally go online every day without thinking anything about it. This comes as naturally as breathing to us! Should we though try and make this day different and have a break from online activity?

One of the problems we face is that it’s very easy for us to start making up “thou shall not” rules to govern behaviour both offline and online on a day of rest. However, I don’t believe that this is the right way to approach this. Instead a better way is to ask the questions that the author ponders:

  • How should we use our time on this day?
  • How do we make this day different?
  • How do we use this day to reflect the nature of God?

The author challenges the reader with the thought that if our sabbath day is no different to any other day then we are being conformed to the world. Whereas we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

He also asks how quickly do we expect replies to emails and postings we make on a Sunday? I must confess if I email someone or message them on a Sunday I do check regularly for a reply.

From a personal prospective I think it is good to consider having a break from the online world. There will of course be occasions when that is not possible for various reasons. For example: we may be awaiting an urgent message from someone or we might be using our phone as our sat-nav whilst on a car journey.

Last Sunday I decided to have a digital sabbath and apart from replying to a text I received the phone was left alone. I found it very liberating to be free from my phone and enjoyed the experience. I am hoping to do this on a regular basis as it’s so easy to be addicted to our smartphones. It’s nice to have a day that is different.

I think David Robertson has again raised some important questions in his book which would be wise for us to ponder and act upon. Hopefully more of us will consider now taking a regular digital sabbath.