Last Sunday, congregations across the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus; we did so with sunrise services, breakfasts, great song sets, dramas, communion, and messages. Then Monday came, and with it the reminder that life and all of its challenges continue on the same as always. As each day moves us further away from Resurrection Sunday and the joy it brought, we might find ourselves beginning to wonder “Does the gladness of last week still matter this week?”
Does the resurrection matter when we head back to school or go to work or are trying to pay the bills or take care of the kids or trying to prepare for whatever unknown tomorrow might be bringing?
I believe it does, because the resurrection of Jesus offers humanity its deepest need—rest.
This sinful nature is exhausting. You’ve heard “the wages of sin is death”; that means a heart separated from God will earn slow, simmering anxiety, a deep, quiet anger, poisoning bitterness or regret, smugness, narcissism, a need to control, insecurity, cynicism, isolation, self-pity, apathy, despair, and an eventual indifferent death. It is sin’s nature to continue wearing us down and tearing us ever so further from God’s redeeming grasp. So instead He came to us.
Paul tells the Ephesians they once were “separate from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…”
Christ on the cross has purchased this peace with God; feelings and emotions in the sway of the day do not change this. And depending on how we respond to this objective truth, it is possible a tranquil serenity could be cultivated within our own hearts; I say could be because there is still the possibility we could fail to enter into God’s rest.
After four hundred years of slave labor and degradation in Egypt, the children of Israel were in desperate need of rest, not just for their bodies but for their souls. So LORD led His people out of Egypt, into the wilderness, and towards the land He had promised them; but as they approached, it became quickly apparent that, even though they had witnessed God’s great acts of power and provision, their time in Egypt had molded a passive spirit of fear and insecurity within them. On the day they were to begin physically entering the Promised Land, and concurrently entering God’s rest, fear got the better of them as the threats that lay before them grew greater than the God who went before them. So denied entrance into Canaan and forced to wander the wilderness for forty years, the land of rest behind them would become a life of regret before them.
Where had they gone wrong?
Despite witnessing great signs, being provided food and water, and receiving a Law that would teach them how to live freely and faithfully as God’s people, “the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
We can attend church, hear sermons, read books, sing songs, talk the talk, but if we never choose to fuse the message with faith, none of it will matter. God’s words and acts, His salvation story, are meant to form a rejoicing faith by which we enter His sphere of rest, wherein God is trusted and we are rejuvenated, as the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Without active faith, God’s mighty acts remain abstract coincidences we will treat with irresponsible and unbelieving indifference, hardening our already wearied hearts. Oh how a heart of unbelief sustains a life of no relief.
What deep, unspoken burden do you need rest from?
Whatever it may be, start by faithfully accepting that the death and resurrection of Jesus has made peace with God and brought life from God, allowing us to enter into His ever healing rest, a restoring and blessed assurance that enables us to enter the week awake and aware to the good news Jesus once yelled out, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”