Running to Rest

IMG_6392.JPG

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matt.11:28 (NLT)

Rest, in our society, seems a desired state but a luxury only obtained by a fortunate few. Although Jesus taught and modeled physical rest this passage is referring to a spiritual rest He was re-introducing to the religious community of His day.  For the most part, it seems that as Christians we understand the concept of resting from our works in order to attain salvation, a reality highlighted in Hebrews chapter four. However, for many believers working to please God or in some way keep our salvation becomes a subconscious and unrealized motivator for Christian living. Before you think, “well that’s not me” understand that this spiritual condition is hard to pin point but it can show up eventually as physical or emotional conditions like lack of passion, stress and striving, tiredness, a lack of desire to connect with God and/or others etc.

What was always meant to be relationship builders with God - bible reading, prayer, church attendance, giving and so on - can become part of an imagined points or demerits system of religious duty and self-righteousness.

Why does God call us to rest from our working to earn His favour?

Firstly, simply because we already have His favour and love.

God is enthralled with us – He’s loved us before we ever loved Him.

Condemnation will try to convince you otherwise but the truth of His love is plastered throughout the pages of the bible from cover to cover. God is screaming – I love you.

Secondly, we cannot under any circumstances be good enough on our own.

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” Is. 64:6 (NLT)

This is why God’s kingdom is found through humility

Salvation is the total admittance of our absolute need of Him and the total remittance of our attempts to be “right” apart from Him.

He calls to us to, by faith, rest from our working. The context of our opening verse incorporates this same truth. Jesus was talking to people bound up by the teachings of the religious leaders of that day who were struggling to receive His message of grace and salvation from Heaven alone. Jesus’ yoke was easy and light.

Burnout – the emotional, physical, and spiritual state of breakdown -  is never Gods plan for His people. It is the result of us working in our own strength.

“After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”  Gal.3:3 (NLT)

His power is endless in supply but His rest is connected to His love.

Many places in the bible discuss our need to experience and receive the love of our Father. One book which captures this incredibly is Song of Songs. I am aware of the literal interpretations which may block some from being able to receive what I’m about to say but as our early church fathers discovered and relayed,  this book contains immense revelation about our relationship to God and Jesus as the bride of Christ. The chapters of this book describe the love God has for us and the depths of peace available for us when we delight in His love.

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” Song of Songs 2:4 (ESV)

“His left hand cradles my head
    while his right hand holds me close.
    I am at rest in this love.” Song of Songs 2:6 (TPT)
 

God is calling us into His love because it is central to our ability to experience all that He is and all that we are.

We do serve God, but this service is meant to be from love, for love and through love. I explore this concept of serving God from the love-filled position of God’s sons and daughters in much more detail in my book, “Servant Sons and Daughters”.( Learn more )

He’s calling us to rest in Him. If you find yourself tired today or if God is beginning to awaken you to His love today I want to echo Paul’s prayer over you:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3: 14-19 (ESV)