• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

the Rest

I read Keller’s comment in chapter four, “the Rest” where he says that the rest Jesus calls us to is more than just taking time off from work, that “there’s another level of rest, a deeper level,” and I immediately thought of the hymn: Jesus I am resting, resting.  You know how the verse goes.  It starts off: “Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art. I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart. Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, and Thy beauty fills my soul, for, by Thy transforming power, Thou hast made me whole.”

Honestly though, on a day when things aren’t going so well, when the overload light comes on in red, it’s tough to find and experience that “rest”.

So where’s the source of our problem?  Tim Keller describes it this way: “Most of us work and work trying to prove ourselves, to convince God, others, and ourselves that we’re good people.  That work is never over unless we rest in the gospel.”  Basically we run ourselves into the ground trying to gain approval from someone else, be it God, our spouse, our colleagues or our friends.  Like a hamster turning around and around on its little wheel, we never come to the end of that self centered effort.

Experiencing anew real “rest” comes when a greater treasure displaces our constant search for acceptance from others.  “On the cross Jesus was saying of the work underneath your work – the thing that makes you truly weary, this need to prove yourself because who you are and what you do are never good enough – that it is finished.  He has lived the life you should have lived, he has died the death you should have died.  If you rely on Jesus’s finished work, you know that God is satisfied with you.  You can be satisfied with life.”

Going deep in thinking about, reflecting on and grasping further the message and meaning of the cross is the constant starting point on the journey towards the rest about which Jesus talks.  It is definitely not easy, and is certainly not my first reflex, but it is the path towards real rest.

Oh, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea:
Oh, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Where do you struggle most in learning how to rest in the finished work of Christ and accepting that God is satisfied with you?  Are there others in your life who help you go deep in reflecting on and thinking about the message and meaning of the cross?  What one step could you take in the coming days to help you truly rest in Jesus?

4 Responses

  1. Regardless of my understanding of the cross–the King’s Cross!–and the simplicity of the Gospel, I find myself comparing myself to others…frequently. This is unhealthy to say the least, but it coerces the whole theology of the Sabbath that Keller unfolds.
    The long quote that you make, David, of Keller’s thoughts on trying to “prove yourself because who you are and what you do are never good enough” is exactly the one that I marked in my book. A powerful reminder of the totality of the Gospel. It covers absolutely all areas of our lives, not just “right thinking” but also “right rest” in His Sabbath.

    • It is amazing how much we compare ourselves to others. We look for our joy more in feeling good about ourselves than we look for our joy in Christ.

  2. It is easy enough to stop working, but truly resting like this is relational. It is quietly trusting to just be in someones presence. Being together becomes more important than the “stuff” in this world. Being together makes you feel stronger to face the “stuff” in this world. Broken relationships in this world make it hard to practice being quiet together with other people and that can make it hard to practice being quiet with God.

    Whether working or not, we need to find this place of rest, anytime we lose it, and before we proceed. I rest least when I start to believe I can do it all on my own.

    • The difficulty is balancing the need to rest and the work that God calls us to. It is not an easy balance to find. We ‘rest’ in order to find the strength and grace to serve from a different motivation. We work, not to find our value, but to reflect back our gratitude and thanks for the infinite value that God has given us in Christ.

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