This Labor Day weekend, it is time to take a break from our work. Because we live in a world that loves to work. In 2014, the average full-time employee worked 47 hours a week. We love to work so much that we’re willing to avoid using vacation days for rest so that we can work more! In a survey done by the U.S. Travel Association in 2013, there were 169 million vacation days forfeited. That’s 169 MILLION days of unused vacation days that employees could use but did not. That adds up to $52 billion in lost benefits. I have a confession to make: I am one of those people! A few month ago I received something from our Human Resources office indicating that I maxed out my vacation days and could not accumulate any further days. Why? Because I love to work!
This love of “work” has translated into my approach to the Christian Life. Work is something that I can do and measure my productivity. I can have a quiet time, pray, do a service project, etc. If I do these things, then I can reassure myself that I am “growing” in the Lord because of my work. However, my motivation is rooted in the fear that God won’t love me or that if I don’t do this, then the ministry will fall apart. Much of my Christian life has been defined by my effort and the result was feeling exhausted.
So often I forget the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, which reads: “Come to me, all who are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Rest is not a word I would often use to describe the Christian life. Yet, this is what Jesus offers. Jesus’ invitation of rest is not a gimmick to confront His followers with the fine print of wearying work later on. Rather, Jesus’ followers rest when they “take” and “learn” from Jesus’ example. Faith is not an entrance requirement to find rest for one’s soul but also the means by which God’s people continue to experience rest throughout their life. This Labor Day, rest in the One who is able to provide true and eternal rest.
What word (s) would you use to describe the Christian life? What are ways that you experience rest in the Christian life?
This post was based upon a sermon preached this summer, which you can listen to here.