Rest

As we’ve all been adapting and changing to this temporarily augmented way of life because of the Coronavirus pandemic, many people will have been working harder, longer, and in stranger ways than ever before.

We set off sprinting into this pandemic, but we seem to have accepted that it isn’t going away anytime soon so we’ve slowed to marathon pace. Along the way, it’s now important that we pause and rest appropriately if we want to keep going.

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Hebrews 4.9-10

Our enemy wants to keep us busy, distracted, stressed, and full of thoughts that are ultimately not about things that are good, noble, right, and pure (Philippians 4.8). He wants you bogged-down in the nitty-gritty of the here and now and everything that could go wrong, certainly not resting.

But, we really do need to rest! Lots of folks think about resting as going to the beach, doing nothing, firing up Netflix and kicking back on the couch to find out just how many tigers a man needs to keep. Maybe your idea of rest is different; maybe you rest by exercising, spending time with friends and family, sharing a meal, the list could go on and on…

We can have true rest from stress, anxiety, worries and weariness, and from our great accuser through one place and One person only: through Jesus

Hebrews 3 and 4 develops this idea that Jesus Himself is our rest, and the key to us understanding this is to understand what Jesus Himself said!

Jesus declared Himself as Lord of the sabbath in Matthew 12.8, and in Mark 2.27 said that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. 

In Hebrews we read of how a relationship with Jesus frees us from the works-based righteousness that being under a law demands. Jesus has done all of the work needed to satisfy the righteous requirements of God (John 19.28-30), and because of this, we can rest easy. There is no longer an incessant need to work, to earn, to strive for righteousness, to bear your own burdens and work them away, to occupy our every waking moment with thoughts of being good enough or accepted.

We can rest, we can recharge, and we can regroup and not worry that we are not fulfilling laws and expectations by doing so.

Jesus serves as our Sabbath rest in the sense that He provides freedom from living under the works of the law. Instead, His sacrifice has paid the price for our salvation in full. We accept salvation as His free gift, entering into His rest both now as well as in eternity in His presence. 

No pandemic or earthly circumstances will every change this, so whilst it might be tempting to work a bit longer, a bit harder, or a bit more because your situation has changed, never forget that the rest you have in Jesus is real and ready. The stress, anxiety, and burnout that comes from overworking yourself to try and get on top of your earthly circumstances will only increase the harder you try. 

So today rest, recharge, refocus, and remember that this is all possible through Jesus.

Living a Life of Words

There are things for us to do now we are believers in Jesus, and, sure, choosing words carefully is one of them; kind, loving, caring, encouraging, edifying, counselling, and consistent (James 3.1-12).

Imagine that Jesus was taking another walk on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24.27) with the New Testament in hand, how would He explain this part of James in relation to Himself?

I’m gonna suggest that He would say this – Words of life are found in one place only.

In John 6 Jesus said 

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. 

Basically, you will never tame your own tongue in your own power and never. 

Edwin Blum wrote that

The Holy Spirit, poured out in the world, gives life (salvation) to those who believe. Without the Holy Spirit, man (flesh) is utterly unable to understand Jesus’ person and His works [and then act accordingly].

Jesus continues and says

The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

He was talking about eternal life, how it is only found in Him, that we must partake of His life and work and sacrificed body to truly inherit eternal life, and that we must look beyond the physical rituals of religion to the words that He is saying and the things He is teaching. His Words carry meaning and truth, and because this is hard, some left Him. We read,  

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 

So He asked the 12, are you leaving as well? He had said some tough truths and people left Him…imagine that. Do you know what the 12 said to Him?

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus’ words lead to life. No one else, nobody else’s words lead to eternal life.

It’s so easy to look at passages like James 3.1-12 and be very moral: You need to be in control of your tongue and your speech. Words are powerful, words can heal, words can cut down, words matter, your words matter. 

That’s not incorrect, but it’s incomplete. 

Rather than be all moral and preach-y, we ought to look at passages like this with a Christ-centred lens: Your words do matter, but Jesus has the words of eternal life.

So yes, work hard to choose your words carefully, but ultimately let us rest in the promises of eternal life found in the words of Jesus.