“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
Notice that there is something for you to do: “Come to me.” Either you will do this, or you won’t, and Jesus says your experience depends on this.
Jesus doesn’t say, “Practice spiritual disciplines.” He was speaking to the most religious people in the world whose faith had become a burden. They were doing their best to live godly lives, but they felt crushed by their own attempts at pleasing God.
Is that you? Are you burdened by the sheer pressure of trying to live a good life? Maybe you are doing your best, but your life is a relentless treadmill and you are weary.
Conservative wisdom says that you find rest by living a moral, disciplined life. Liberal wisdom says that you find rest by following the impulses of your own heart. But this rests on the massive assumption that your heart knows good from evil. Follow the impulses of your own heart and your life will always be restless.
You won’t find rest in spiritual disciplines or in your heart. Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest!” Why doesn’t He say, “Believe in me and I will give you rest?” The word “believe” might leave the impression that it’s all in the mind.
When Christ says, “Come to me,” He indicates that there is movement. The prodigal son was in the far country until one day he said, “I will set out and go back to my father” (Luke 15:18). That’s more than believing.
Were you under the impression that Jesus’ rest comes to you automatically, or only as a result of more effort (e.g., spiritual disciplines)?