Rest is an important rhythm of life. It is one of our core values here at Christ Chapel. it is also a biblical value.
There are so many scriptures that talk about rest. They encourage it as a good practice and they live out examples of rest.
We see in the account of creation that God found value in rest:
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” (Genesis 2.2)
And there are so many examples where Jesus rested in some form:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
“Jesus went out to a mountain side to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12
“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31-32)
This is only a tiny fraction of the scripture that encourages rest. It is clear that rest is an important value and should be a part of the normal life rhythm.
But let’s look a little closer. It says that God rested after He had completed His work. Not when He got tired, not when He didn’t feel like doing it anymore, not when someone told Him he was doing it wrong or wasting His time. No It says He completed His work and then rested.
And in most examples of Jesus we see that those times He stole away to place of quiet and solitude, He did so for the purpose of investing time with the Father. He would go away and spend that time in prayer.
In no way do I say any of this to try and discount rest. Clearly, if God found a need to rest, then rest is something we should not avoid. God even commanded the fields be rested every seven years, so clearly it is a scriptural pattern.
But we humans tend to push things to extremes. Instead of just finding a balanced rhythm of work and rest, we apply the value every day. We often excuse inaction for rest. We say God rested, so I must rest. But we ignore the fact that God worked 6 days and rested 1, the balance is definitely weighted further in the direction of work.
Jesus also talks about work:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
We like that last verse “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light” because it sounds like rest. It sounds like God will do everything and we can just sit back. But look again at verse 29:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…”
What this is saying is Jesus fully expects us to work. When you “take a yoke upon you” it means you are joining into a working partnership. Because Jesus is the other half of the yoke the work will be easy, but it will still be work. It doesn’t so no burden, it says a light burden. It’s still a yoke, which means there is work.
The over balance of course are people who work until they drop. Maybe this is blind devotion, maybe this is a desire to be a blessing, maybe it is out of a belief their salvation depends on the work they do. This is wrong too.
God rested and He expects us to rest. But the holy pattern or rhythm of rest is a pause from work, not a work stoppage.
Rest is defined as: an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.
It is an instance or a period, not a lifestyle. We should not work to get a break from our rest. Rather we should rest to recover from our work. But in order to recover from work, then work must be performed otherwise there is nothing to recover from.