Friday, March 15, 2013

We Need to REST.

I am not sure if it is ok to admit this or not but I am tired. I can tell because lately when people ask me how I’m doing those three words are the first ones to come to my mind. I usually give another answer but honestly I’m thinking I am tired!  I have a hunch that I am not the only one that feels like this as well. We need to rest. Now before you say amen and stop reading this to take a nap, let me share with you why I think we need something more than that.

Before we dismiss our tiredness as something physical I think we need to examine and make sure that it is not a deeper weariness that comes from inadvertently following an age-old pattern of life that is so easy to slip into. This pattern promises to bring us joy but instead leaves us worn out both physically and spiritually. Paul records it for us in 1st Corinthians chapter ten. Israel, God’s chosen nation failed to enjoy the rest God had promised them because of a specific pattern of disobedience. We can see it starting in verse six.

First they craved evil things. Go back to Numbers 11:4 and you can read how not long after God delivered them from the harsh slavery of Egypt some of them began to long to go back there again. They began to crave the fish, the melons, and the cucumbers they once had there and started complaining and leading others to crave those things too. Instead of being thankful for God’s daily provision of manna and trusting that the land He was leading them to was so much better, they turned their hearts away from God and wanted to return to the place He just freed them from.

Their craving leads them to idolatry. They needed a new god that would let them indulge these evil desires so they went to Aaron and demanded that he make them an idol. Aaron takes the gold earrings that they brought out of their slavery in Egypt and makes a golden cow and proclaims that this is the god who brought them out of slavery. They then worship their new god by getting drunk and being sexually immoral which is something they probably used to do in Egypt when they worshiped their gods.

What they didn’t think about was that God was still God and their sin will lead to His judgment. Sin promises a lot but always delivers death in the end. Idols might let you play for a little while but when God returns, the party is over and its time to answer to your heavenly Father. This pattern of disobedience (evil craving-idolatry-immorality-judgment-continued rebellion-destruction) continued on until a whole generation of Israel died on the edge of the Promised Land never having entered into the rest God had promised them.

I think a lot of us are so tired because we slip off into that same pattern today. In fact both Paul and the writer of Hebrews warn us as Christ followers to not follow that same pattern of disobedience but to be diligent to enter into the Sabbath rest of God. Be diligent to enter rest? That sounds like a oxymoron but listen to what Jesus says to the weary in Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

A vacation might help but I think the real answer to a lot of our tiredness is found in these words from our Savior. We need rest in our soul. The only way we can enter that kind of rest is by turning from our idols and coming to Christ to learn a whole new pattern of life. It’s a pattern marked by faithfulness, obedience, love, humility, hope, and results in genuine complete rest (shalom). We need to be diligent to take on His yoke so we can enter His rest. The good news is that His yoke is easy and His burden is light because He is the one who shoulders the weight. The answer to our tiredness is to walk in close communion with Him by faith. 

I really believe that we need to constantly guard ourselves from idols just like the apostle John said in 1st John 5:21. I am thankful that we set aside times like we will this weekend to celebrate communion because they serve as reminders for all of us to examine our lives to make sure that we are not starting to crave evil things but are diligently seeking to rest in our Savior. No matter how physically worn out we become if we stay in communion with Him we will have a deep abiding rest in our spirit that will see us through to the end.

Thankfully in Grace,
Shannon Compton, Life Groups Pastor, BCC