“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
Have you ever wondered about that “rest” that Jesus promised in the above verse? I remember many times, sitting in my chair, reading my Bible, hoping it would come to me by osmosis. I sure wasn’t getting it. I couldn’t figure out what “I” was doing wrong. “I” was doing all the “right” things; where was this rest? Maybe God meant that if we came to Him now, we’d get rest later, like when we died and went to heaven..
- I went to church faithfully
- I paid tithes faithfully
- I sang in the choir
- I headed up children’s ministries
- I taught Sunday school
- I never said ‘no’, when asked to do something.
- I made sure I remembered to I John 1:9 myself every time I sinned. (Of course, “grace” covered the ones I had forgotten)
Something wasn’t quite right, though. You see, the part I was skimming through was the verse that said His yoke was easy and His burden light. This is the yoke we were supposed to be wearing. Here. Now. Not when we died and went to heaven. Then it dawned on me…
I was wearing the wrong yoke! Okay, so how do I change? Surely God didn’t intend for me to just sit around and eat Bon-bons all day. until He called me home. There’s too much work to be done! There are souls to save! There are people needing help every day! How dare I just sit around and not ‘do’ anything? What about good works? What about the “Fruit of the spirit”? This did not make sense. to me. I just knew that if something didn’t change, I’d be a basket case real soon. I didn’t understand it, but I was too busy to sit still and contemplate it for too long. There’s work for the cause of the Gospel to be done. So, I took a big gulp, resigned myself to this life of Christian hell on earth, knowing that one day (soon, hopefully) I would die and not have to deal with it any longer.
I was talking with a friend about the goodness of God (that’s what we Christians do, ya know) and I was feeling pretty good with myself–I’d not sinned in gosh–it’d been three–no four minutes! My friend and I had been discussing forgiveness. I was very proud of the fact that whenever I sinned, I knew I could just confess my sins to God, ask Him to forgive me, and He would. (Wasn’t I such a good christian?? Blech!) “No, He won’t” my friend counters… What?!?! So much for my three or four minutes without having a bad thought! How dare he insinuate I had just out-sinned God’s Grace? Isn’t God merciful? Doesn’t He want us to try to better ourselves? Make Him proud of us?? “Of course He will! If I ask, He’ll do it!” I insist “No, He won’t” (my friend is obviously being pig-headed) “Ahhhh but, He tells us in His word that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive…” I start smugly. “Mmmm right… the good ole I John 1:9 christian bar of soap..” he interrupts sarcastically.
Boy.. had this not been an online conversation, I would have choked him!! I wanted to reach through my monitor and smack him good! As it was… my monitor had to suffice–needless to say, my hand suffered many bruises on this journey towards the New Covenant. So we go back and forth like that for several days, until, thanks to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, I discover that it’s not that I’ve out-sinned God’s grace.. and it’s not that He ‘wont’ forgive me anymore, it’s that He’s already forgiven me–forever!! No, seriously! Take a look at II Corinthians 5:19–
God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them.
And if that wasn’t enough… I came across Ephesians 1:7
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His Grace. Col 1:14 In Whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
Well that was a surprise. The reason I’m forgiven, isn’t because I asked–but rather because of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. In fact.. I had little to do with being forgiven, other than receiving it. On top of that, the Bible clearly states that in Christ we HAVE forgiveness (not “will get some more when we confess and ask…) Why didn’t I ever see that before? I read the Bible tons of times, and memorized different scriptures and taught others… how did I miss that?!?! Well now.. you could’ve knocked me over with a feather.. that “world” thing included me! He’s not counting my sins against me! None of them? Or just the ones I’d “asked forgiveness for”? Well, it seems that.. when Christ cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them! They know not what they do!” It doesn’t tell us of anyone in the mass crowd running up to ask God to forgive them. Yet.. since Christ asked that.. doesn’t it make sense that God did so? Besides, what about the verse in I John 2:10? I write unto you little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. (not because they asked, but because of Christ??) Well, that’s a whole other story… but.. given that we’re totally forgiven, forever… that whole idea of “rest” doesn’t seem so farfetched anymore. I don’t have to work my fingers to the bones anymore, for fear of making God sick to His stomach at being a ‘lazy’ christian. I’m His. Christ is my head, and I’m simply the body, that is available to the Head, for whatever the head needs. I no longer have to be in the Christian Spotlight as “Christian of the year’ because I know I am totally accepted in the Beloved. Not because of anything I did–but because of everything He did. Nothing I do will make me ‘more’ accepted or ‘less’ accepted. It’s because of Christ’s works, not mine, that I’m totally accepted. Oh.. and that deal of switching out the yoke? Changing my burden for His? It wasn’t something that was done overnight..God had a lot of legalism to clean out of my heart (and still does, for that matter) but through the teaching of the Holy Spirit…it’s since become a joy to be in His discipleship. Because of the Finality of the cross, I have lost many friends, and a good deal of my loved ones have shied away from me… but I wouldn’t trade this “rest” I have for anything in this world. Little by little, as God perfect timing unfolds, He sends me fellowship of like-minded believers. In His time, and in His way–not mine. To read more of the conversation, click here to read about the Law.