Rest for the People of God, Part 3
After two posts on sorting through how the Bible presents rest, we are ready to respond. Side note: Theology is important because you cannot rightly apply the Bible if you don’t know what it says. That is another blog post for another time. Back to application. The rest for our soul, our eternal redemption that is secure in the unchangeable hands of our Savior, must enter into our work and our rest. More specifically, Christ himself must enter our work and our rest.
Christ enters into our work. Christ has redeemed us and enters into our work, telling us that all of our labors can be used to bring him glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). He brings purpose to our work because these are works he prepared for us to do, for him (Ephesians 2:10). Our work doesn’t provide our value, identity, or salvation. All of this is secure in Christ. We aren’t saved on our ability to climb the corporate ladder, maintain a certain GPA, our athletic prowess, homemaking abilities, or how great our kids turn out.
Restlessness, anxiety, anger, needing to control outcomes, incessant busyness are indicators that we, instead of Christ, are at the center of our work. When we labor like this, we are saying that Christ’s work isn’t enough, there is more to do. We must cease from striving, cease from our works, sit at the foot of the cross, and rest with our eyes on Christ. We labor from a place of rest. One type of work brings slavery and the other brings freedom.
Here are some helpful questions to ponder as we think about our labor:
- Are my emotions controlled by how my “work” went that day? What is it I’m seeking for from my work that is controlling me and my emotions? Joy, pleasure, success, identity?
- Whose standard am I trying to achieve? My own, my peers, my children? Who do I need to accept me and tell me, “well done”?
- What am I trying to accomplish and what happens to my world if I don’t accomplish it? Who’s performance matters?
Christ enters into our rest. The Lord knows we need rest. There was a practical point to the Sabbath as well. We aren’t God and we need rest. Christ enters into our rest just as he enters into our labor. We can rest for the glory of God. We don’t hide from him in our rest, we bring him into those times of rest. When we neglect to bring Christ into our times of rest, this is when we find ourselves not rested at all. It is funny how much work it is to rest well. Self-indulgent rest leaves us exhausted.
What are some signs we aren’t resting well?
- Feeling guilty for resting or feeling like we need to sneak rest
- When rest seems separate from your life as a Christian. We don’t think about Christ when we rest, it is an escape from Christ and his work.
- Feeling like you have to hide from God when you are resting
- Rest that is primarily self-indulgent
Bringing Christ into our rest in the here and now is practice for the coming eternal rest where we will dwell with Christ forever.
What small steps will you take this week to rest in Christ as you labor and as you rest?
- Ask. Ask God to show you where you are striving apart from him. Seeing where we aren’t trusting Christ is good and necessary. We can’t fight what we don’t see.
- Repent. Repentance helps us to rest. Turning from our sin to Christ in and of itself is restful.
- Trust. Trust that Jesus died for sinners like you and me. He forgives and provides the grace to help us grow in this area. Seeking refuge in the forgiveness, mercy, and grace from our gentle Savior is the foundation of all true rest.
- Act. Is there a small change that can help you rest better in Christ? I write this from a place of great neediness and desire to grow in this area. I’m slowly learning to bring Christ into my labor and times of physical rest in small, simple ways.
- Saturday mornings I try to sleep in. I now thank the Lord for the opportunity to sleep a little extra and it helps me not only enjoy that refreshment with Christ but also recognize that it is a gift from him. I am aware of my tendency to hide from Christ in my rest.
- I am learning to recognize signs of anxious toil in myself. Acknowledging before the Lord that this is placing trust in myself instead of Christ has been a huge step forward in freeing me to rest in Christ as I work. This freedom has even had a positive impact on my physical energy levels.
I’m thankful we have a Savior who says his yoke is light. I’m thankful the cross penetrates into all areas of our lives. I’m thankful our salvation is complete in Jesus. Lord, help us rest.
Note: These series of posts were greatly influenced by a podcast from CCEF on Rest. I encourage you to take a listen here: https://www.ccef.org/podcast/rest/