Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Thought for Wednesday 22 October 2014

“Come to Me, all you 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.”  Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

The first thought to cross my mind as I was reviewing this reading was what has been written by others: If you are finding Christianity to be ‘easy’, you’re not doing it right.  This is to say, Christianity is counter-cultural; it does not fit with how we have generally been conditioned and oriented toward the so-called “American Dream”.  Christianity does not fit into our social circles because, more often than not, our social circles do not involve discussions about religion and faith (we just don’t talk about Jesus, but we will likely talk about others who are not present!), AND our social circles are not generally open to persons we do not know – or like.  We go to church on Sunday, though, and if we have a little extra to give, we might toss a token into the collection plate.  Yet we do not deliberately make room for guests; and if an unknown guest does come, we might toss them a tepid smile but little else.  We do not practice tithing or sacrificial giving of time and talents because, frankly, there are other things much more important to us than the Church.

So, sure, in this we find Christianity very easy because it does not seem to ask or require anything of us.  While this may be true that the Church has stopped asking (don’t want to lose any members, you know, the church being ‘theirs’ and all), Christ has left us with His teachings; and if we dare to be honest with ourselves and remain true to what is actually written in the Scriptures instead of embracing fond sayings that have no real scriptural basis, we will discover faith and discipleship to be the most difficult things there can be because Jesus Himself does not let us off the hook – not if we want to claim His Name.  Oh, we can fool others into believing we are Christians, but Christ Himself is not so easily fooled.

Jesus, on the other hand, is painfully aware of how difficult it is to walk by faith rather than by sight; He knows better than any.  This is why He offers this respite in the midst of the struggles we face in our daily living – AND – in our spiritual journey (assuming we are ‘doing it right’).  He knows.  He has watched us chase the “American Dream” which has pretty much remained a nightmare for so many, and He has seen us ‘chase our tails’ and never quite reach it.  It’s cute when we watch puppies do this, but we would probably not think ourselves so cute if we could actually see how we struggle to make material prosperity and faith align.

Still, there is a catch to this passage.  Jesus is not offering to magically make the broken pieces of our lives come together.  He is not offering a winning lottery ticket, and He will not smite Publisher’s Clearinghouse if they don’t show up at our door.  He is also not offering to leave us to wallow in the so-called “life” we’ve carved out for ourselves.  “Come to Me”, the Savior says.  This means we finally realize how we’ve struggled against the wind, how we’ve finally realized that without living for something greater than self, the only thing we have to look forward to is our own funeral.  OR if we have been ‘doing Christianity right’, how the world has cursed us and mocked us and laughed at us and called us ‘fools’.  What Jesus is offering is to teach us; that is, prove to us that nothing done in His Name is ever done in vain.  Yet claiming His Name but offering Him nothing in return is indeed using His Name for vain purposes.

“Come to Me”, the Shepherd says … on My terms, in My way, and according to My truth.  Then – and only then – will we find true “rest for your souls”.



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