We have inherited the Puritan work ethic. Hard work is good, but a lack of rest is not. We have all worked too long without stopping to rest.
Let’s understand how a lack of true rest destroys us and our country and how rest for both body and spirit is an answer to fixing America.
We will look at rest for our souls, abiding in church, excuses for not, true friends, being pruned by God and the opposite of rest.
Rest for our Souls
Jesus encouraged us to abide in him (John 15:1-8). Rest is a dirty word among those who have inherited the Puritan work ethic. Yet, rest was incorporated into the design of the original creation. God took the seventh day and rested, not because he needed to, but because we need to. Some Christians insist on applying the letter of the law to either Saturday or Sunday today, but there is no such command in the Bible for the church. We are no longer under the schoolmaster and so apply the law in spirit. People in some professions must simply take another day of rest for the body. A day of rest is good for body and soul. Abiding in Jesus is not just once a week. Abiding in Jesus, provides a permanent rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).
Abiding in Church
Abiding in Jesus (John 15:1-8) means abiding in church and that can be problematic. We must also abide with people problems. We may not want to, but Jesus wants to be around his people. He knows our sins, but forgives. He knows our silly fights between denominations, but perhaps is not as interested in our picky opinions as he is in grace. Forgiveness and grace are necessary in any human relationships, perhaps even more so in a church setting, where we expect higher standards of conduct. Yet, do we also expect higher standards of grace and forgiveness from ourselves? So then abiding in Christ, means that we also abide with each other. Surprising as it may seem, those who do, live longer and healthier lives than those who cannot abide church, so there must be something to this abiding.
But the Music is Boring
There are many reasons why people don’t go to church. “But the music is boring,” may be one excuse. “The preaching is not very exciting,” may be another. Another popular reason is a particular church has political issues, or people are too narrow-minded. If I was a starving person, I would not care what music was playing, or if they only had green beans and no ice cream to eat. And I certainly would not care if the staff did not get along perfectly or what their opinions about picky issues were. Abiding in Jesus means that we stay — no matter what (John 15:1-8). If a church preaches Jesus, that is, not just his name but also what Jesus taught, then that’s a place I want to be. The music, style of preaching, and personal problems are insignificant.
No True Friends but a Closet full of Shoes
Today’s world offers many fake substitutes. The Bible calls wealth a delusion because we substitute it for life’s most valuable things, and the best things in life are still free. Perhaps we have witnessed the woman on television with no true friends, but a closet full of shoes. Perhaps we have had a glimpse of the billionaire’s life, filled with material things, but marriages that continue to fail. One of the great blessings of church life is that connection to God and his people (John 15:1-8). If we abide in that connection, we get the best things in life for free. Abiding in church creates a support network of true friendships that stand the test of time and a friendship with Jesus develops a fruitful life that will last for all eternity. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing.
Pruned by God
We came to Jesus for Sabbath rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30). We decided to stay, abiding with him (John 15:1-8). When we attach ourselves to his vine, we also agree to the terms of the arrangement which include being pruned by God. Vines do not have nerve cells and so there is no pain, but pruning does still include certain minor temporary setbacks, which must be accommodated. In the long run, pruning keeps a vine from going wild and helps it produce a much better grape harvest. It may sound silly, but a vine that is cut off cannot bear any fruit. It is just headed for the fire. Cutting ourselves off from Jesus and connection with the church causes our lives shrivel up. We cast our lives into the fire. Better to stay connected and fruitful.
The Opposite of Rest
Getting a promotion in corporate life can mean stress without rest, long hours, few days off and vacations that are cut short. Those with ambition to earn a better income for their families may be saying goodbye to family life. That is too often the experience of those who begin to climb the modern corporate ladder. Success is counted in dollars earned, not in marriages lost. It is counted by corporate titles received, not by family events missed. Those who put job before God and family receive hollow congratulations from employers, but not from where it really counts. Making time for important work at home and resting one day in seven blesses family and country. Those who abide in Christ (John 15:1-8) put God and family ahead of the corporation and find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28-30).
God created us to work on a job and around our homes, but he also created a Sabbath rest which applies in spirit even if not the letter, for our bodies and our souls. Let’s rest before overwork destroys us and America.