I learned a lot in church today.
I was the one speaking, but really, sometimes it doesn’t matter who the one doing the talking is… the things that are said can grab you and make you think.
It seems silly to say that, but honestly, today was one of those days when the sermon wasn’t quite the same spoken as it was written down – things changed between the pages and the air. Sure, same basic concept… but some of it – well, the best way to say it, was it wasn’t me. It was stuff I needed to hear just as much as anyone else.
The sermon was based on Matt 11.28-30.
” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
My thing is, when you look at how so many Christians start to feel, and what the stats for pastors are… it’s hard to believe that Jesus actually said that his yoke is easy to bear and that his burden is light. Really? ‘Cause people don’t seem to be feeling it. As I said in my sermon – I think those stats about Pastors are probably applicable to most people who devote a lot of themselves to volunteering/working in churches. Only, for them, the stats aren’t being recorded.
So many people who are trying to live for God, trying to advance the kingdom – all getting worn out, overwhelmed, being under-appreciated, misjudged and misunderstood… to be honest, things seem way more “heavy” and “difficult” than “light” and “easy”.
Not that Jesus said everything would be perfect, he said their would be troubles – goodness, even one chapter before this promise of light and easy he says that they will be flogged and put on trial and a whole bunch of other stuff.
So, it’s always seemed a paradox to me that Jesus said things were going to be light and easy – because there don’t really seem to be many people that are giving the church so much of their time who are having that type of experience.
So, I was trying to figure it out, and I thought of one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, and how he’s said that we seem to try to approach the Bible as a how-to manual or a self-help book instead of a love story – instead of a book on building a relationship.
So I thought about it a bit in context of this heavy burden that is actually supposed to be light – and I thought, maybe that’s part of it. Maybe we look at the Bible like it is this manual for how to become who we are supposed to become, and we think that we think – all these traits, all these “fruit” we need to have them in our lives. We try to achieve them. We try to become a certain way so that we can please God.
The easiest way to say it – we’ve reached this place where instead of living with God, we are trying to live for Him.
You might think they are the same, but really they aren’t. You can do all sorts of things for someone, thinking they are the right thing to do, and they might even be good things – but that doesn’t mean they are the RIGHT thing. Add in church culture, (which we can all admit right now has flaws) – and then you don’t just have the things that you think are the right thing to do, you have what everyone else thinks is the right thing for you to do.
That right there is enough to create a whole bunch of heaviness. Trying to live FOR God, and coaching others to live FOR Him, could be making things extremely difficult for ourselves.
I really really like the way that Matthew 11.28-30 is said in The Message (especially 29!)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
There is so much of what is said in that passage that is so beautiful – but I especially like the middle part there – I’d type it again, but I really think that the bold and italics might be enough of an emphasis.
I’m going to stop there for now – but tune in tomorrow and I’ll continue my thoughts on the majesty of that statement – and how I think it holds the key for light & easy Christianity.