Is Rest Sometimes An Excuse For Apathy?
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
The idea of rest is a popular one in our generation.
Every young person has heard the message, “You need more rest.”
And most of the time I would agree.
We live in a fast paced, fast food, fast wifi, fast walking culture.
And in the midst of this crazed, highly caffeinated generation...Jesus' voice is one of stillness and simplicity and rest. It's beautiful. It's good.
I believe we must have routine in our lives that provides room for real rest and authentic replenishment.
I have experienced burn out and I have experienced seasons of healthy rest.
I understand first hand the danger of missing the necessity for real rest and the power of healthy rhythms.
But, in all of this talk about rest, how often we do ask the question, “What are we actually resting from?”
We often seem to take this scripture out of context.
Sometimes, we look around and say to an overly rested, apathetic culture, “Just rest. Jesus said it was important.”
But we never seem to clarify why Jesus would tell His followers to take this deep, soulful rest in the first place.
Jesus wasn’t telling people to rest because they were already really good at it.
Jesus wasn’t preaching rest because His followers were already doing it.
Jesus didn’t have to demand rest for His children because they weren’t spending enough time on Netflix.
Jesus preached a message of rest because His people were being sent out into communities where they were preaching the truth, performing miracles, healing people and more.
Yet even with all of the good they were doing, they weren’t always welcome.
In fact, Jesus warns them two chapters earlier, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning to you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation - just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities.” (Matthew 10:16-18)
These people were being run out of town and brought to the authorities all while their motives and reputations were dragged through the dirt.
They weren’t just tired because of some ordinary, mundane life.
They were pouring themselves out for the sake of Christ.
They were exhausted becuase they were sacrificing everything to do the work of Jesus.
When I read this passage, I imagine Jesus looking at His band of twelve young world changers with compassion and deep love.
I imagine they were dirty from walking down dirt roads, bruised from being pushed out of town, shaken up from their time before the authorities, and discouraged from the negative reaction of the people they were trying to love.
Maybe they were ready to throw it all away.
Maybe they were done.
Rejection, hate, persecution, discouragement and weariness certainly wasn’t what they had signed up for…right?
And it’s in THIS moment, looking at this rag-tag group of discouraged, disheveled twenty somethings, I imagine Jesus would have smiled and said, “Now, it’s time to rest.”
Please don't fall into the danger of burn out or overwork yourself to a place of emptiness.
Rest and replenishment is holy and needed and right.
While we are allowing Jesus to fill us with Himself, let's ask ourselves honestly, "What am I actually resting from? And is it worthy of my one and only life?"