Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Society And Church That Do Not Understand Rest

We get tired. It's a proven fact that we can only push ourselves so far before we start feeling the effects of lack of sleep. God created our bodies in a certain way, with certain needs and it is our responsibility to look after what we have been given.

Our bodies require the right foods with the right nutrients. We have advanced far enough in our knowledge that we now understand what foods are good for the body and which are bad. Of course we desire the bad stuff and due to our lack of discipline often consume it for our body. Isn't it interesting that all the good-for-you foods are so expensive and all the bad-for-you foods are so cheap. Is it any wonder that the poorest of our society also have the worst health?

Our bodies require exercise. It is how God has designed us. We were meant to move, lift, run, throw, dive. We were meant to be active, to work. There it is, we were equipped to work not sit around and entertain ourselves, stuff our faces with bad-for-you food while sitting and watching movies, TV shows, or playing video games. Activities are available to us and most are free but we lack the discipline to do much about it.

That brings me back to our collective tiredness. We need rest. We need sleep but we need to go beyond that to actual rest. Rest from our labour, from our struggles, from our stresses, from everything that stresses our mind, body and soul. It is bad enough that most adults don't even come close to getting their proper sleep each night and have spawned an industry of wake-me-up. Everything from energy drinks to special creams for men's faces to revitalize those tell-tale tired looking lines around the eyes. I love us as a people; instead of dealing with the problem we mask it. But we need more than sleep.

Jesus has promised us rest and it is rest that we need. We are almost in a zombie state, the walking dead, here but not here. We carry far too many burdens and try to fit far too much in a day. Eating well and exercising helps lessen the stress and helps bring us to a place of rest but we cannot provide the sort of rest that even our soul requires. Jesus does though, he provides what nothing else can. He says quite plainly:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

You caught that right? "I will give you rest", "you will find rest for your souls". I don't know; somewhere along the way we have lost something in the translation of life. We worship Jesus, join in all the activities to bring us into maturity, we talk about him all the time but we continue to carry around our own burdens. Somewhere here we are missing the point; Jesus gives us the rest that we need by giving us a new birth which removes the burdens of this world and replaces them with the tasks of the Kingdom. Jesus promises that the new things placed upon us are easy and light because they do not belong to us, they remain God's responsibility.

Unfortunately it is hard for us to "let go, and let God". Maybe it is due to all those years of carrying around our own burdens. We take on God's stuff, which is suppose to be easy and light, and we make it heavy by thinking we are responsible for making it work. Our responsibility is to be faithful to the task we have been given no matter the cost to us but that thing still belongs to God and it is up to him to make it work. When we realize this and live like this, suddenly the rest Jesus has given us breaks through and the things of the Kingdom remain easy and light.

There is no reason that any follower of Jesus should be walking on the face of this planet tired. If we are tired it is our own fault and we are dishonouring God by doing so. We need to enter his rest, trust him with our earthly burdens, trust his promises about provision, about our children, about our futures. We need to let go of the anchors and prisons of this place and be free to move with the Spirit. We need to allow Jesus to remove the stresses that threaten us and trust that he is actually in control. We also need to be obedient to the needs of the body God has designed and given us by sleeping, exercising and eating properly. Let's stop masking the problem of this epidemic and start taking corrective measures. It begins with trusting Jesus.

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