“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
-Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Are you burned out on religion? That is the exquisite way that Eugene Peterson translated Matthew 11:28. Religion means working, getting tired from working and telling others to get to work. Jesus view and style is that what we do comes out of and through rest. Resting is not about unplugging from work, but plugging into the one who loves you.
We are ‘saved unto good works’, but we don’t work to be saved. The work we do was God’s idea and it flows out of our relationship, in Christ:
“Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”
-Ephesians 2:8-10 (MSG)
There is an old song called , “He is our peace”. Besides the title, I always remember the key line, “Cast all your cares on Him, for he cares for you.” That comes from 1 Peter 5:7, where Peter quotes or echoes Psalm 55:22, that says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (HCSB)
It is also notable that believers do stumble and fall, but God has our hand and helps us get back up. The falling is like tripping, misstepping or losing or way or our ballance. Some translations say, “Though he may stumble, he will not fall”, while others have, “Though he fall, he is not overwhelmed” (Ps. 37:24, NIV, HCSB).
We all have dreams, from God and challenges, God allows. We want to and rightly so need to take responsibility for how we unpack and navigate these, as stewards. But we don’t carry the whole weight of it.
With the vision and with the obstacles, comes gifts of grace, gifts from God. It is not just about seeing and then doing the vision or encountering and overcoming the obstacles. It is about unpacking the treasure that God endowed you with to participate in and be a developer of that vision. And as each obstacle comes into play, you will discover gifts or grace from God to counter the obstacles.
We partner with God because we are a covenant people. We are not people who are under a contract, where each side is bound to do this or that. In our covenant with God, we give ourselves to God and God gives himself to us.
More from Ephesians 2, from The Message:
“But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.” (Eph. 2:11-13)
Inside the covenant, there is no selfishness. Each party gives for the mutual benefit. We are new covenant people.
God has made a covenant to save us through Christ. And we get to give ourselves to God and live in the covenant, in Christ. God does all the heavy lifting and we get to participate as junior partners or king’s kids.
The new covenant (Matt. 26:26-9, Mark 14:23-4, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:23-6, Heb 7:20-2, 8:6-13, 9:11-17, 12:22-13-21) supersedes the old one and Christians are now a part of Zion, which has always been believers out of all the nations (Psalm 87).
When we stress or worry, struggle and strive; we might be carrying the weight that is God’s to carry. We live in the paradox of receiving promises and permission from God, in love; but we don’t have the power or the wherewithal to make it happen.
Please forgive me, for cherry picking verses (versitous), but here are some verses:
- His yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matt. 11:30).
- His grace is sufficient for you: strength is made perfect in weakness (1 Cor. 12:9).
- God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).
- I will be with you (Judges 6:16).
Are you going to carry that weight? Time to get low and get the yoke of Christ on. Time to cast your cares on Him.
God does give us responsibility. We are stewards of what he gives us. And we need to be good at stewardship, because that is faith and faithfulness, which God wants from us and it is only natural to be faithful to the person who is faithful to us and to whom we put our faith in.
This question of, “Are you going to carry that weight”, cuts two ways. We need to not strive or worry and take on what is not ours to carry. And we need to take responsibility to pick up and carry what is ours.
We also must bear the responsibility for our own development. Jesus is still asking crippled people if they would like to be made well. He is still handing out talents and watching to see what we do with them.
So, as I consider the weight, I think about his yoke that is easy and his burden that is light and the resting in him from which my life is supposed to flow, by his design. And I also think about the responsibility of stewarding what he gives me.
The weight I want to carry is the weight of the yoke of Christ, that is easy, compared to other yokes, and light. I want to live from rest. I want to rest in Christ and let him live through me.
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