Imagine your closest friend invites you for a coffee. Nice. Their treat. Even better! So, how would you be until then? What would you be thinking about? Chances are, if anything, you would simply be looking forward to getting together with them and enjoying great food, great coffee and great company! In your mind, it’s a done deal, right?
Most definitely, (I hope) you would not be sitting around worrying in the days beforehand, mulling over crazy scenarios in your mind. To even consider this invite was all your imagining and that your friend may possibly be lying or deliberately misleading you would be utter nonsense. Will he really be there? Will he be on time? What if I misunderstood his intentions completely? I wonder if I have done something to upset him? Should I bring money just in case? And so on. Nopety, nopety, nope! You know him intimately and trust him implicitly. You can enjoy your days beforehand and rest easy, fully persuaded and assured he will absolutely be there on time and falling over himself to treat you to the very best the cafe has to offer!
Your rest is rooted in knowing them. This relationship is not a passing, fleeting acquaintance, but a deep, kindred connection of hearts and minds. There is mutual trust and a commitment that is other focused and selfless in its giving. There are no hidden agendas or ulterior motives lurking in the background. Your friend may be more intentional than you are, in their pursuing you in this season, and that’s ok too. For you know you can relax, breathe and be yourself as with no one else.
With the Trinity, it is ever thus and yet, so much more! We have a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes! There is no shadow or turning in Him. He is Grace. He is Love. He is Life. It is the absolute delight and burning passion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to give us life, to open their hearts to us and have us live there, fully participating in all they are and have and share together from all eternity. In Christ is where we reside. This Love knew us even before creation itself was gifted as our playground!
The finished work of the Cross is the ultimate expression of this Love, a Love from all eternity that penetrates and perpetuates our existence for all eternity. The Good News is that we were, are and always will be Father’s obsession! Nothing could stand in God’s way, but that we are to be utterly and completely included in the life of the Trinity and fully presuaded and assured of His astounding Love and Grace toward us. A Love and Grace which He revealed and demonstrated on that tree. The Cross of Jesus Christ is many things but it is, first and foremost, the eternal cry of God’s heart to you and me. It is the expression of a Love that always was, is and will forever be…ours! It is God’s heart exposed in the most vulnerable way imaginable: in His giving of Himself entirely.
This heart attitude is still His heart attitude!
And yet, I am still to be persuaded and fully asured at times when circumstances stare me down. How can this be? Why can’t I rest? I mean really rest, knowing what His heart and His passion for me truly is? Why do we (I’ve included you now) become so busy, so preoccupied and overwhelmed with life’s problems and circumstances? Why are we so stressed and obsessed with trying to control life, as if devoid of a love and grace already given? Let’s face it and call it what it is…why do we live as if the Cross never happened? Rest evades us. May I suggest we perhaps accept the world’s definition of rest as being an external entity and miss out entirely on an internal reality?
Worldly wisdom (oxymoron) declares we must work to enter a restful state or at least have earned it in some capacity: the result or reward for having acquired financial success, moral exactitude or a right standing in church or society. Rest is usually reserved for those who worked hard and have their nest eggs stored in barns, or for those who worked hard and burned out in the process! I guess that’s fried eggs then? Believe me, I speak from experience.
Religion does not allow you to rest, in any way, shape or form. In fact it is insidious in resisting it! There is no rest physically, emotionaly or spiritually. You are constantly placed under demands, burdened with shame, guilt and condemnation, as you strive to perform, to mature and get with the program already! (Or perhaps, another person’s vision of their favourite program). Good News, eh? Religion is not restful! It’s exhausting and fruitless and therefore futile and, oh…it’s eh, not the Gospel! Jesus Christ is not a religion, nor did He come to establish one. Rather, to abolish all.
The Church still preaches such a legalistic view of God. We are taught the Cross cleaned our slate and balanced the books, but now we gotta keep it so and make sure we don’t mess up again! God’s anger toward us was averted in Jesus’ own body, so that, now Father can love us. (Um, He didn’t before?). And so, we worry, we strive, we think it’s all about me, and my might, my performance and my hard, diligent slog which (eventually) softens God’s (hard?) heart toward me and which persuades Him and assures Him of my righteosusness. Only then can I rest…
Well, in that case, the Cross has just been rendered meaningless!
How is that rest for the soul? Eeesh! Non-Gospel! Will the True Gospel please, jump up and down vigourously with extreme joy, wave a banner, blow a shofar and slap us awake!!!!
We can only truly rest if we know,
- It is finished: You are the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus,
- That God is Good, prodigiously Good and,
- That it had nothing and has nothing whatsoever to do with us nor our performance.
I love what Graham Cooke shared many years ago, that you can only rest in the nature of God: in who God is! Or, put another way, Rest is only found in Him.
For us in Christ, Rest is where we live. A priceless gift. It is a lifestyle, albeit one to be cultivated as we awaken to this amazing reality of our inclusion in the Trinity by a supreme act of Grace.
Rest is not a state of mind or a reward for your hard work. Rest is our inheritance. It is the nature of the relationship into which we are invited. In Him, in His Rest is where we live and from where we live.
Rest is a person. Your rest is His Rest. He bequeathed it to you.
So, if He ever rings you for a coffee…rest, fully assured and persuaded in who He is and that He will be there on time.
As He is. Ger