Come Unto Me

While I’m tempted to post something about the holidays and how this time of year can bring such despair, I won’t, because let’s be honest – hopeless bleak despair can be all around all the time in the heart of practically anyone, whether we see it or not. That heaviness that accompanies the burdens people carry are a fact of life and, hear me on this, people are not meant to live under heavy burdens because Jesus offers “light and easy.”

“People are not meant to live under heavy burdens because Jesus offers light and easy.”

Look at His exact words in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

So, if Jesus is to be believed (and He IS), EVERYONE striving under heavy burdens is invited to Jesus by Jesus so that they can find rest for their souls. What capacity, Jesus! What welcome… what love! It’s like there’s a real solution for all this heaviness in the world. Yep!

It seems to me that there are two reasons why people remain laboring and heavy laden: 1) Christians haven’t told them there is this hope found in the Scriptures; 2) They know what it says but won’t believe it. Now, you and I can’t force anyone to believe, so #2 is on them, but #1 surely is our responsibility. After all Jesus went away, commissioning us to continue His work on the earth to communicate just this sort of beautiful promise, believing that not only would we earnestly and consistently obey Him in telling people how good He is, but that it would absolutely WORK!

The actual, concise, Great Commission from Jesus to His followers (/disciples/Christians) is found in Matthew 28:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Pare that down some more and we get to the crux of our obligation to a hurting world – “teaching them.” Let’s get real practical… I dare you to ask me to teach you about the French Revolution (sorry, been listening to a lot of Coldplay lately). I have absolutely no clue about it, although I could probably sing a showtune or two from Les Misérables, if that would help. (That’s about the French Revolution, right?) No term paper would be accepted with my diatribe about the plight of little Gavroche. This all means that I’d be useless as a teacher on the French Revolution because I don’t know anything real about it. So what do we make of “Christians” who have been tasked with teaching “the world” / [people who haven’t yet begun following Jesus] to obey everything Jesus commanded His followers to be about?

Graciously, let me start to answer that with one caveat… brand new Christians generally only know a tiny amount, so they couldn’t teach (for very long) about how to obey Jesus. BUT they can teach whatever they DO know. And we are all meant to continue learning and teaching, according to the actual, concise description of the Church, found in Acts 2:42: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Devoting ourselves to The Apostles’ Teaching is so… meta. The very thing we are meant to do in the 21st century is exactly what they were doing in the 1st century – learn about and teach about Jesus. It’s like, “hey, everybody, we gotta give our lives to learning about Jesus so we can give our lives to teaching about Jesus, and we’re gonna learn it from people who gave their lives to learn about Jesus and teach about Jesus. (And in many cases GAVE their lives because of teaching about Jesus.)”

I won’t delve into all the beauty and wonder of learning directly from The Holy Spirit, but I will say that God won’t lead you any way contrary to His written Word. (see 2 Peter 1:19-21)

God won’t lead you any way contrary to His written Word.

Just for good measure, I’ll throw in another Scripture related to this (helpful for good doctrine building), Romans 10:14-15, How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Since Jesus, now in Heaven at the right hand of God, making intercession for you and me to accomplish that Great Commission on earth in His stead, is not physically here to shout out to people, “COME UNTO ME… I’LL GIVE YOU REST,” we’ve got to do it. My gut (and a bunch of experience) tells me that the reason Christians don’t do any of this is that they don’t know enough about Jesus, and that creates anxiety about teaching anybody anything about Him, much less calling them to wholehearted sacrifice and life-long obedience to His unchangeable commands.

Here’s the calculus on this:
God gave us the Word (both in the flesh as Jesus and in text form as The Bible)
The Word gives us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
The Word contains our calling, our job, our role on this earth
(Amazingly comprehensive and generous of God)
Most Christians, in turn, don’t invest much if anything in The Word (in relationship, and even just reading)
So we don’t know what it says, what our role is, what we have available to give
Thus we don’t help ourselves, much less others, because of willful ignorance
(Not so great on our part)

But we aren’t doomed to this fate, just because it is rampant among self-described Christians. We can choose to invest daily in The Word, drawing close to Jesus with a growing devotional life which includes prayer, reading The Bible, meditating/listening for God’s instructions, obedience to said instructions [often defined as “ministry”].

I say, we become the change needed for hopeless, heavy-hearted people, because we’ve always been and will always be Jesus’ chosen answer for them. He gave us everything we need – up to and including Himself – and continues to give by the power of His Spirit, reminding us what He’s taught us, so when we encounter someone who needs a welcome embrace from Jesus, they find it ready in you, and in me.

I say, we become the change needed for hopeless, heavy-hearted people, because we’ve always been and will always be Jesus’ chosen answer for them.

(And since we can’t follow everyone home and live with them, we can certainly introduce them to where all the answers can be found… The Word. Simply opening The Bible to a passage you remember that may help them and reading it together can do wonders – and the best part is, they can take THAT home with them and be encouraged all over again and again as often as they need. If you need to “google” a few words to remember where that Scripture lives, DO IT… if anything, it shows you’re human and that’s always relatable. 🙂

I don’t normally do this, but this Take 6 song – where the title of this post came from – may help you remember the scripture, the call, and even put you in that mindset of ease and rest. It’s as if Jesus is singing to you as 6 of the coolest people on the planet. 😉

You Are Not Alone

‘Tis the season… for holiday cheer, for brotherly love, for peace on earth and goodwill toward men… but we find that, in many cases, loneliness and sorrow creep up on people and cause this to be a time of grief and mourning, of hopelessness and despair. I must start off by not just acknowledging this but addressing it with the truth of God… that the whole reason for the season is that Jesus came to rescue anyone who will reach out to Him and welcome Him in!

The whole reason for the season is that Jesus came to rescue anyone who will reach out to Him and welcome Him in! #youarenotalone @toservemankind

Jesus says in John 15:14-16:

You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you…”

Proverbs 18:24 points to Jesus with, “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

In Revelation 3:20-21, we hear Jesus say:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquersI will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

In Romans, the apostle Paul instructs us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” We are not some fair-weather family, but we are in this life together to the end… through all the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the successes and failures, the delights and disappointments.

We all have our own load to carry, but there are times that we are burdened with more than we can handle alone. It’s in those times that we must open up and trust one another in humility to help us carry the burden until it lifts. In Galatians 6:2, the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, instructs the family of God to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” And to be clear, I’ll reiterate that it isn’t only rejoicing with those who rejoice, but weeping with those who weep. Enter into another’s situation, their emotion, and appreciate that this is a difficult moment, and they shouldn’t be alone, because they have YOU.

This experience is not limited to any group of people. No one is excluded. Parishioner to pastor, plumber to president, people all need Jesus and all need spiritual family to strengthen and encourage them from time to time (and likely more often than we – or they – fully know).

The prophet Elijah experienced a tremendous victory over the so-called “prophets” of Baal, where he went overboard in proving the real God’s existence and power, with such bold ridicule of their false god, Baal, drenching the sacrifice over and over and inviting God into that circumstance. And then, seemingly mere moments later, fleeing to isolation, cowering in fear from the threats of Jezebel, imagining and subsequently feeling all alone, complaining to God about how terrible life is and asking to just die. THIS IS SERIOUS TALK! In The Church, we say, “faith speaks,” and it’s true, but I’ll tell you what is similarly true, “depression speaks.” Proverbs 18:21 cautions us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Same tongue, same speaker, but like the spring James writes about in chapter 3, verses 8-10, “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” We can essentially curse ourselves when we allow our words to create negative, reinforced realities for ourselves. These things ought not be so.

This is where the beautiful demonstration of life together comes in from one brother to another, as they remind you how powerful and present God is… how vested and eager He is to help you… how He is worthy of such praise… because when you speak in faith of His faithfulness, you will receive those benefits. And so when a compassionate friend and brother comes to you with this encouragement from Hebrews 6, don’t despise him for it. And as you encourage WITH Hebrews 6, administer it gently. Verses 11-12, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.