When did rest turn into work?
In Matthew 11, Christ calls out to an overburdened crowd and proclaims this to them:
"Come to me all who are tired and overburdened, come to me and find REST for my teaching is EASY and my requirements of you are LIGHT" (My interpretation and emphasis)
Christ called a people that were struggling to meet all the requirements that the religious leaders had put on them. Those leaders had taken the law and added to it. It went from 10 commandments and the Levitical law to over 600 laws and rituals. These people were told that in everything they do, they have to carefully follow every law to the T or that they would end up being an enemy of God. They had all sort of rules and regulations for living. Jesus knew this and in one statement gave us the Gospel and how we are to live from the point of being a follower of Christ - WE ARE TO REST IN CHRIST!
Unfortunately today's church tells people you are saved by grace but only stay saved if you work at it. Or they believe in grace but then live their life independent of God. God wants us to rest in Him. Do you know what rest really is. It is the act of putting yourself into God's hands and trusting Him for everything. I hear the pressure all the time to produce this or make this happen. Even in filling out a few questionnaires for church positions, there is a huge weight on what goals I must accomplish and little on how I trust God and stay connected to Christ. If God is in control and nothing righteous originates from me but only from God, then isn't the logical place to be in our Christianity is a place of total dependence for God to work in and through us? Shouldn't we quit trying to make things happen and allow God to do the work that He promises to finish? If all provision really is from Him, should we act as if it up to us to provide? I believe that we can easy take credit for what God has done and even sometimes work past where God is working only to find out later all the striving really hurt us and did not advance us.
I know this is probably easy for me to write and for many of you to look at us as just not trying hard enough. I have made this same mistake toward other people I love only to see God work out what He was doing in the first place and find myself eating that famous humble pie. Believe me, there has been plenty of striving and plenty of making my resume look the right way, or worrying about saying the right thing in job interviews. Every time I work in this way, I become frustrated and the task seems even bigger. However, every time I turn to God intimately and talk to Him about it, begging Him for help, He ends up providing. Every time I put myself in Christ (where I already am positionally eternally), the anxiety fades and excitement about being part of God's work rises. We are not to worry about what's next only about WHO we are with. Everything God does around us and through us will first be done in us.
If you think I'm crazy then let me finish this with a little bragging about my DADDY who sits in heaven. I have now been without a paycheck for 2 weeks. When the paychecks ended (Dec. 28), we believed that we would then write our last bill and would not have enough to eat off of in the month of January. As that last week rolled around, I panicked and quit running to God. I got edgy and fill out every application I could ( I couldn't even get hired selling cell phones at AT&T, something I already do without getting paid or get an interview with a dollar store). Finally it was too much and I just gave up and told God "I guess this is it, this is our last month in our house and my children will suffer greatly". This is the point where God led me back to Himself. He reminded me that He was the one who has provided every job and every dollar no matter how wisely or poorly I used them. Then I got a call from Urbancrest: we had one more check for $400 but when I picked it up, it became $1800. Another person sent us a few gift cards. Bills that we thought we couldn't pay became less. Our food budget shrank (this is a miracle in itself). Our savings account had more money in it than I thought and we ended up not spending about $1000 of our budget last month. I received and honorarium in preaching at another church. God showed me He is at work and my job is to stay next to Him and say yes when He says do something.
I guess the question I have for all of us and especially for me today is: do we really trust God enough to let Him do what He is already going to do (rest) or are we going to carry a burden He has not asked us to carry and that gets us focused on us and not Him?
To REST in Christ is to TRUST Christ to do what He says He will do!