Thursday, July 31, 2008

Strive to rest

Matt 11:25-30
At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Hebrews 4:10-11
10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

Walking with Jesus (or as it really is, "in" Jesus) was never meant to be hard for us. But man, I've seen some people make it very hard! Now, I don't mean it's meant to be a life without problems. I just mean that being in Christ is a matter of walking in His footsteps, not side by side with Him or trying to keep up with Him. We dig into our Bibles and find all kinds of things that we're "supposed to be doing," thinking life with Christ is a matter of trying to fulfill all the things God has told us to do. But what we miss is His life in us.

We are His workmanship. The workmanship of our lives is not our own. It is God who works in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. All this is done, not through an analytical look at the "do's and don'ts" of the Christian life, but through something the church today seems to know very little about: REST!

If there's a struggle in the genuine Christian life, it's not a struggle between doing good and doing bad. It's not a struggle to keep the commandments. I think the verse from Hebrews says it well. It's a striving to rest. Now, in that verse I think it's actually telling us that those of us who are in Christ have entered that rest, and it's telling the readers that those among them who haven't entered it... strive to enter into it! But yet there are so many people who truly are believers and have entered God's rest - which in reality is a Person, Jesus - who aren't experiencing that rest as a normal part of life. In that sense, the struggle remains.

And I fully understand it! I deal with the struggle too! Grace, and God's rest, goes against the fleshly tendencies we have to do the job ourselves. Walking by faith is not the way of the world around us. "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7). To not walk by sight... is not easy!

To trust that there is a Person living in me who says I am not my own workmanship, but I'm His workmanship, doesn't make sense to my senses. Through my senses, it's easier if I can just read the pages of my Bible and get a list of things that I'm supposed to do, and then set off on a daily quest to try to do those things. But of course, often that list gets hard to do!

Aside from not being by sight, faith is also contrasted with something else. "The law is not of faith" (Gal 3:12). To walk a walk of faith - to walk in God's rest - means letting go of at least two things: walking by what we see and walking according to the law/commandments.

If you're walking in love because you've been commanded to love, then you're not walking in love, but by a commandment. However, if you're walking in love because you are resting in God, and by His work in you, you are working out the love that is already in you (because His life is in you), then you're following a commandment without even following a commandment!

Strive, be diligent... to walk in the rest that is yours in Christ. Look around at all the busy people, trying so carefully to follow all the rules and principles, and you will generally see people who are not at rest in their souls. Look around at the few people around you who are at rest in their souls, due to abiding in Christ's rest, and you will see people who are walking naturally in love.

As a person who is learning from Christ (see first scripture above)... are you walking in a love-relationship with Him or a performance-based relationship? If you say 'performance-based,' please let it be HIS performance you're talking about. :)


  1. Preach it, Joel! :) Love it, love it, love it!

  2. I have been making that shift. My soul has cried - no, begged for rest for years. I can taste the freedom - and He is answering my challenge to prove to me that I can trust Him. Hmm.... getting disentangled not just from the bad doctrine but from the people who try to make you live by it... freedom. ;-)

  3. I think one of the toughest things is learning to discern what God wants for us. Consulting with Him. It's easy to take the truth that Christ is in me, therefore I can do all things, therefore I must do everything and easily put burdens on our backs that aren't for us.

    Waiting on God is difficult!

  4. Matthew~

    No kidding!!! But the more we do it, the easier it gets? Yeah...

  5. nice one Joel, great use of the that piece on sight and law...


  6. Tracy,

    I can't help but preach it. LOL :)


    Freedom is the cry of everyone's soul, I think. The rest that we have in Christ is what every living person needs, and indeed it's true we can trust God with our very lives... but of course it takes time to grow in that. Lots of unlearning to do, and learning of the truth of His love and grace, and rest and peace.


    Learning to discern... yes, very true. Indeed even with grace doctrine, we can put heavy burdens on our backs, thinking we need to do it all because in Christ, we have this powerful grace and we can "do all things." I'm with you on this for sure! We just need to rest and wait... and yep, that can be a struggle!

    Along with what Katherine said, I do think that as we grow in Him, we have many experiences to look back upon in which we see how He led us through many things... slowly, and over time... and it becomes "easier" to trust Him. But yeah, it's not instant by any means. :)


    Thanks for your comment. I think 'sight' and 'law,' as contrasted with faith, makes all the difference in the life of the Christian.

  7. This is such a great reminder... I love this that you wrote--
    "If you're walking in love because you've been commanded to love, then you're not walking in love, but by a commandment. However, if you're walking in love because you are resting in God, and by His work in you, you are working out the love that is already in you (because His life is in you), then you're following a commandment without even following a commandment!"
    Wow, you have a way with explaining things in the Word! It just really reminds me that freedom breeds love and love breeds freedom, in Christ. Thanks. Pray for me in my journey to experience this more and more... Can I maybe post this quote on my blog with a link to yours?

  8. Manuela,

    That was very well said... I think it's true that love and freedom go hand in hand. No problem quoting my blog on yours, go right ahead. And I'll be praying for you, as you requested, to experience the love and freedom of the Lord more and more!

  9. Thanks- very-much for that

  10. Anonymous,

    It's always good to be reminded of the rest we are in, when the world around us (especially the Christian world), seems to want to keep us from it.