“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?’”
1 Corinthians 1:18-20 NIV
When I began writing, this verse was the one upon which I chose to base my entire blog. The seemingly never-ending paradoxes believers must learn to embrace if Jesus is truly master over their life.
We choose the narrow road over the wide one that everyone else is following. Freedom is actually found when we yoke ourselves to Jesus. We have to work to enter the rest He’s given us.
This all seems really counterintuitive. We are saved by grace through faith, not by our own works, right? So why would we have to keep on ‘doing’ much of anything?
Of course, we aren’t saved by our works, but they are evidence of a real and living faith. We are told to work out our salvation with “fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
Hebrews chapter 4 implores us to enter the rest God has provided for us. Some, however, missed the boat apparently:
“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest…
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”
HEBREWS 4:2-3, 9, 11 NKJV
Why doesn’t hearing the Good News profit all people? Because they don’t put any faith into it, which leads to disobedience, which ends in a whole lot of not resting. I just love how, in the end, we are told that entering this rest means actually laying off of all the striving and hustling. God’s rest is the real deal, and once we enter into it, we are set right.
There’s a whole bunch of Christians walking around today who are doing anything but resting. I think we equate it with uselessness or laziness. The rest of God isn’t about sitting on pillows and eating bunches of grapes, it’s about being right where He needs us to be in order to work out this wonderful salvation we’ve been given.
In Matthew 11, Jesus calls to the weary and worn out people and promises to give them rest. Interestingly enough, He says the way to rest is by taking HIS yoke upon ourselves. He offers us Himself. He is the one doing the work, but we must accept to be yoked to Him, it’s the only way to relieve our burdens. The great exchange is made: our burdens for His rest.
What a mistake we make by thinking that submitting to Christ is going to somehow hinder us or keep us from enjoying life. We cling to our sad little sins, thinking they can give us some relief — when all they do is keep us slogging through the mud. Paul tells us in Galatians that it’s actually our sin that keeps us down, not Christ:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
GALATIANS 5:1 NKJV
We are called to and created for liberty and freedom. It’s not a freedom to run to sin and self, but a much better kind, one that brings us into true rest with our Savior. We must be diligent to remain under His yoke and not one of our own making.
In his poem, “Adam’s Curse,” William Butler Yeats wrote that “we must labor to be beautiful.” I think he is right. All things beautiful and worthwhile come at a cost. Our salvation is the greatest gift we will ever receive. How often do we really think about that? We are called co-laborers with Christ.
We labor, but we do not strive.
We are yoked, but not into slavery.
Jesus makes all the difference. Strive with the world, and burn out. Labor with Christ, and be at rest.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on scasefamily.com.
Featured Image by Aaron Burden