July 14, 2016 - Rest in God

Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

This is not something we expect to hear from Jesus.  We expect him to be demanding.  We expect his yoke to be heavy – to be a cross on which we are supposed to suffer and maybe die.  We expect to hear how we are not good enough - that we depend on God to withhold wrath for expectations not met, not the lack of any expectations at all.   We are inclined not to see God as Someone in whom to rest, but Someone that it takes hard labor to reach.   

What sense does it make that we can make a lifetime of bad choices, indulge in hate, pettiness, meanness, ignore God altogether, and still warrant His loving concern?   But story after story makes exactly this point:  bread is multiplied so that there is no need to ration it between the good and the bad, the productive and the unproductive.  Vineyard workers who arrive in the last hour get paid as much as those who worked all day – and it is implied that those who never showed up for work would be paid just as much too.  The rain, Matthew notes, falls on the good and the bad alike (5:45).

We can kick against this goad, mitigate it, compromise it, or accept it as the divine message.