Preface: “ ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath’ ” (Mark 2:27, 28, NKJV).
If you have taken a course in developmental psychology, you’ll probably be familiar with the work of John Bowlby regarding the theories of attachment and developmental deprivation. During World War II, he studied infants who experienced separation from their natural mothers for the first six months of their lives. The care givers usually ignored the attachment behaviors of the young children, such as smiling, clinging, following, and crying.
After these behaviors went unrewarded for three months, dramatic changes occurred in these children. They lost interest in the surrounding environment; they refused to smile. They lost weight, suffered from insomnia and depression, and were more prone to infections. Eventually, death overtook many of these children.
The lesson is obvious: without a loving figure who takes the time to nurture and care for a child, severe psycho-social and physical consequences are inevitable. We are social beings. I believe this is so because God is a social being, and we are created in His image. Speaking of creation, the first week of earth’s history is an excellent example of God’s social nature.
When my brother and I were growing up, we decided to get an aquarium. After purchasing a fish tank, we decorated it by adding some beautifully colored pebbles, green plants, interesting ornaments, and a water filter. Then we finally went to the pet store and purchased some guppies. We came home very excited and carefully released the fish into their new home. Guess what we did at that point? Do you think we ran outside to play ball? No! We sat there for an entire hour watching our new friends swim around in the aquarium.
After creating the sun, moon, trees, lakes, birds, and all the beautiful things of this earth, God created Adam and Eve in His image. After He released them into the Garden of Eden, what do you think He did? Did He run off to another universe to create other things? No! He took an entire day to spend with His newly created friends. It was a bonding moment.
What if God had run off to another universe and had never spent those first moments with humans? Who knows? Perhaps without His loving care and nurture, we, too, might have become victims of a cosmic developmental deprivation not unlike Bowlby’s children.
God is a social being. God treasures the Sabbath because He desires companionship with us. Many of us grew up with the Sabbath as a rule oriented day, when actually it should have been enjoyed as a relationship oriented day. In fact, all our doctrines will begin to make much more sense when we view them in a Christ-centered and relationship-oriented manner.