GOSPEL INVITATIONS: COME AND REST (part 1)
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
Jesus invites the weary.
Weariness is a function subtraction. It is to have less of the good thing you started with because of use, or overuse, or misuse, or abuse. In particular, weariness involves the loss of three good things simultaneously and continuously. The first is energy. The amount of energy you have at the beginning of a task is considerably more than the amount you have at the end of it. The draining of energy from a person results in weariness. This means that any method of rest that the person engages in when they are weary is not truly rest if it does not restore the energy they have lost. And Jesus invites the weary to come to him for the restoration of energy.
The second good thing that a weary person has lost is purpose. When a person has worked for a while, they can lose a sense of purpose for their work, or a sense that what they do matters in some meaningful way. This leads to them doing the work without passion, and the work becomes a burden rather than a joy; the work becomes wearisome. By implication, true rest is the restoration of purpose in your work, through the kind of inspiration that refuels your passion and keeps you aware that whatever work you do matters to God, is part of his work, and is worthy of his praise and reward. And Jesus invites the weary to come to him for the restoration of purpose.
The third good thing that a weary person has lost is newness. When what you are doing loses its freshness because it feels old and boring as a result of monotony or repetition, it becomes wearisome. This means that true rest restores your sense that each day your work is new with opportunity and creativity. And Jesus invites the weary to come to him for the restoration of newness.
But there is a more permanent dimension to the rest Christ offers. So far, we have been talking about one kind of rest, namely resting from the work we do as a vocation or function in society: plumbing, lawyering, teaching, constructing, engineering, accounting, auditing, cleaning, cooking, farming, driving, designing, entertaining, decorating, tailoring, fathering, mothering, preaching, etc. Jesus gives us rest when our vocational and functional work in society wearies us. He invites us to come to him for the restoration of our energy, purpose, and newness. But there is another work that is neither vocational nor functional, namely our redemptive work. Redemptive work is anything you do or perform with the goal of saving your own soul or establishing your worth as a person. Redemptive work is any task you perform to pay for or earn God’s approval or to access his favor or gain entrance into heaven. Redemptive work is wearisome, because none of our redemptive work can ever be good enough to give us what we seek to gain by it. It is wearisome because it never ends and it never pays what it promises. When Jesus says that he will give us rest when we bring our weariness to him, he means that those who are tired of redemptive work that can yield no fruit should come to him to rest from that work for good. Coming to Jesus means giving up our redemptive work entirely, trusting that the redemptive work Jesus himself has done is perfect and has been accepted by God as our own. In the first kind of rest, Jesus restores us so that we return to our vocational work with his energy, his purpose, and his newness. In the second kind of rest, Jesus restores us so that we never return to our redemptive work ever again.