I recently reflected on a wonderful text of Scripture which I have read dozens, perhaps hundreds of times in my life. I have, in fact, preached sermons from this very text:
Come to me, all 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.”
As I meditated in silent reflection and prayer, I discovered a distortion that I have nurtured in my life. When Jesus says ‘come to me,’ I have often assumed the following:
Biz, I need you on my team!! I need you to hunker down and fight for me. Join me and let’s win this war together.
How grand! These words awaken feelings of esteem! They anchor my identity in a goal that is measurable and meaningful (Hunker down! Fight for!). The messy world, the world of being in His presence and welcomed by His love, is overrun by the tidy world of doing something for Him and winning His great love!
As I lingered in this posture of sacred/contemplative reading, I found myself open and surrendered to the transcendent presence of Christ. Rather than twisting the text to fit my framework – I welcomed His word, which both disrupted and restored my framework. In this moment, I heard Christ’s invitation to a vital and abundant walk; a journey with Him. It sounded something like this:
Biz, come to me and find rest. Surrender to and walk with me. Yoke yourself to me and experience the rhythms of unhurried grace and favor. Walk with me and learn from me. I will teach you gentleness and humility. These are the rhythms of my life! These are the rhythms of the soul at rest!
Wonderful! How vast the distance and wide the space between Hunker down and fight for, and Surrender to and walk with! Our culture (even Christian culture) exploits the former and ignores the latter. This relational posture is prevalent in the both the most liberal and conservative wings of the culture and church and characterizes most of we who inhabit the spaces in between. It’s quite easy to conclude that we believe our posture or relationship to Christ is to hunker down and fight for.
When Christ says “come to me,” is it because he needs us or is it because He loves us?
Ironically, God is calling, in this text, the exhausted; those in need of strength. He is offering a lighter, more abundant way of life than self-reliance and human effort. He is inviting us into a way of life in which we walk with him so that we can learn from Him.
Further, hunkering down and fighting for would seemingly make one tired: drive one to exhaustion. In fact, rather than calling us to that it seems as if he is freeing us from it! The context is one in which the people of God are being oppressed by those who have hunkered down and fought for Him. In so doing, they have distorted the true Law of God and forced a people into a system of fighting for, rather than walking with Him. Personally, I find this to be the typical course of events for those of us who hunker down and fight for God. Indeed, we start with zeal; on fire for God’s righteousness and truth. We end with fatigue of one who has, in utter exhaustion, misheard the central message of the biblical witness: God With Us.
Perhaps it’s time for a new relational posture! In a day when many are screaming and up in arms. At at time when many incite us to hunker down and fight for someone or give more to something. The voice of Christ whispers an ancient truth every soul longs to hear: “Come to me. Not to fight for me but to surrender to and walk with me. You will learn me. You will experience me. You will taste my love and drink deeply from the well of unhurried rhythms; unparalleled grace.
Disrupting to Renew,