Rest, Relaxation, and Redemption
Most mornings I am fortunate enough to be able to hit the snooze button once before diving headfirst into a day packed full of studying, responsibilities, and tasks. I’ll subsequently drink a few cups of coffee (a Christian’s ambrosia if you will) throughout the day to keep myself alert and moving forward. I check off “to-dos” as I make visits, review the Sunday School curriculum, plan activities, and study for upcoming messages and lessons. Upon arriving home, I finish my “honey-do” list, work on some course-work, finish an article for this site, and take care of our dog. On a good day, I get enough time to indulge in one episode of Doctor Who or Sherlock before going to bed and starting all over again. Like Greek mythology’s Sisyphus, I push the proverbial boulder up the hill, just to watch it roll back down for me to repeat the process.
I’m not alone. Busyness is an equal opportunity employer. Parents will tell me that their child will be at youth group after ball practice, but only if they finish their piano lessons and homework first. Our initial reaction is to get angry. We justify that we are equally as busy and make church a priority, so why can’t they? And so, before we know it, we too have turned the things of God into a checklist of to-dos.
Living in this “time-is-money” society, how do we teach our students about rest? Is it just a license for laziness or something that is found at the heart of the Gospel? Essentially, the Scriptures teach us three truths about the Gospel and the rest it proclaims.
1. Past: God Created Us to Rest in Him.
At the beginning of Scripture we see God ordaining one day a week for us to rest (Ex. 20: 8-11). Not only has God given us an imperative to do so, He Himself, in the Genesis account, set an example for us—creating (working) for six days and resting on the seventh. Here is an amazing truth to ponder: whereas this day of creation was God’s seventh day, it was humanity’s first. God rested from His work on the seventh day, but mankind’s first day was a day of rest. Thus, humanity was created into rest. God made us, at least in part, to rest in Him as we did from the beginning of our creation.
2. Present: Christ Invites Us to Rest in Him.
The Bible tells us that rest is available for us in Christ. Christ gives an astounding invitation, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It is in Christ, and Christ alone, that we have release from our earthly burdens and rest for our weary souls. It gives us peace in troubled circumstances, hope in a broken world and assurance that the hardships of this world are but a vapor.
3. Future: The Redeemed Will Receive Ultimate Rest.
Those who have hope in Christ are promised rest when we die. Specifically throughout the New Testament, we see believers who have died described as “sleeping” (cf. John 11:11-14; 1 Thess. 5:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:20). This is the privilege of Christ’s heirs. Nowhere in Scripture are the unredeemed given the blessing of sleep in regards to their eternal state. This idea of sleeping when dying is tied hand-in-hand to the resurrection of the dead. Specifically, a believer is “sleeping” in order to be awoken in their glorious resurrection bodies.
So next time you find yourself in the heap of a busy schedule, or frustrated at your students for theirs, remember that we live our lives in light of a Gospel of rest. We serve a God that is removing the heaviness of our yoke, not adding to it. We don’t herald more to-dos, but rather the great and glorious done. Because of that, we can rest—in Christ alone.