Today’s Bible reading

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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

So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs. – Hebrews 4:9-11

More thoughts for meditation

Bruxy Cavey says, “Jesus has spoken to you already today” through nature, music, a person, an event, a dream, a thought or a book (he hopes HIS book). Whether we follow Jesus or not, the Spirit of Christ has come to us. Jesus engages all of us, each of us, by drawing us (John 12:32), by convicting us (John 16:8), or when we receive his grace coming to us as we are baptized into him, filled up by him, united with him and empowered by him. The next step is ours.

In his last chapter he is trying to get us to plan some application of all he has taught us. A main subject he notes is “rest.” Religion tends to wear people out. As he’s talking about today’s readings, he teaches:

Maybe when you read these words, you sense Jesus saying the same thing to you now: come and rest with me. Mind you, for people who have become so used to the hard labor camp of religion, learning to rest spiritually can be hard work. Maybe that’s why the author of Hebrews said, ironically, “We must make every effort to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11 NET).

Notice that Jesus is not pointing toward a different and better religion called Christianity, but instead inviting us to himself as an alternative to the weary way of all religion. (Come to me and I will give you rest.) Religion uses rules to force our steps, guilt to keep us in line, and rituals to remind us of our failure to live up to those rules. In doing this, religion adds more weight to those who are already burdened with life’s hardships. But Jesus offers us the rest we’re searching for.

Although Jesus does offer rest, please notice that he says, “Take my yoke upon you,” not “Take my couch underneath you.” He offers rest, yes, but it is active, constructive, creative rest. Yokes are farming implements put on the necks of animals so they can pull a plow or wagon. A yoke, then, is a symbol of purposeful work and cooperative labor. I say “cooperative” because a yoke often unites two animals, working side-by-side, together in rhythmic teamwork. Perhaps Jesus wants us to picture him alongside us in the yoke, or perhaps he is pointing to the fact that we grow best spiritually when we move forward in a partnering relationship with others. Either way, Jesus promises that there will be work involved if we want to learn from him, but it will be the kind of creative, purposeful, and partnering labor that is more a release than a responsibility, like life back in the days of the garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:15).

Suggestions for action

Pray Bruxy Cavey’s “Skeptic’s Prayer:

Dear God,

I don’t know what I believe. But here I am, talking to you, willing to learn, and wanting to grow. I think there might be something to this whole Jesus thing, and I’m asking you to please confirm the truth of his message to my heart. If I’m going to follow Jesus, I know I’ll need help, from you and from others. I am open to your Holy Spirit and I am ready to receive from you. Please fill me, forgive me, and empower me to believe.

Thank you,

Amen

1) Turn on and tune in. “God’s loving presence surrounds us like air…we simply need to stop holding our breath….[W]e are free to participate in [spiritual disciplines] as expressions of the life God gives us; but not as techniques to obtain that life.”

2) Get into organized irreligion. “We do many things as Christ-followers, and we do them all for celebration, not for salvation….The problem with organized religion is not that it is organized. The problem with organized religion is that it is religious.”

3) Read through the Gospels from this new perspective. Write down what you are learning and talk about it with others.

4) Get into a living community and ask your questions. Contribute to the community being in Christ, not just in their relationships.

5) Go on the offensive. “As C.S. Lewis says, ‘Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.’”

We’re celebrating John Mott, the  great missional visionary, and Menno Simons,  the one who lent his name to our cousins, the Mennonites — all on our sister blog, Celebrating the Transhistorical Body.