Summary: How like poppers are we; who know not, who apprehend not their own worth? We have been created to rest in the provision of our Heavenly Father!
Labor to Rest, Hebrews 4:1-11
In English folklore a story is told of a child of one of Britain’s noble families who was stolen from his house by a chimney sweep. The parents spared no expense or trouble in their search for him, but in vain. A few years later the lad happened to be sent by the master into whose hands he had then passed to sweep the chimneys in the very house from which he had been stolen while too young to remember it. The little fellow had been sweeping the chimney of one of the bedrooms, and fatigued with the exhausting labor to which so many lads, by the cruel custom of those times were bound, he quite forgot where he was, and flinging himself upon the clean bed dropped off to sleep. The lady of the house happened to enter the room. At first she looked in disgust and anger at the filthy black object that was soiling her counterpane. But all at once something in the expression of the little dirty face, or some familiar pose of the languid limbs, drew her nearer with a sudden inspiration, and in a moment she had clasped once more in her motherly arms her long-lost boy.
In the embrace of our Heavenly Father is found the rest into which we were intended to enter in every situation, every place, and every moment of our lives.
Admittedly, these are difficult times. Our hearts faint as fear mongers tout the latest threat on the horizon. Our minds are cluttered by anxieties and worries of every kind. There is restlessness in our world, in our culture, in our hearts which, like a cancerous tumor, seeks to destroy us with its unrestrained hostility; from within the recesses and caverns of our very hearts, minds, and souls!
What is the greatest epidemic of the modern era and specifically in the modern church? I would suggest that it is not one but many which are all tied the restless spirit of our age. Fear, worry, anxiety, and much more; all of which reflect a lack of understanding of God’s desire for us to enter into His rest.
God has given us His divine presence that we might experience His peace in the midst of all of our circumstances and yet we flee from His peace as we rely on our own strength, our own ability, our own power, meanwhile we are falling apart at the seams. The only labor reserved for us is the labor to enter into His rest!
Here is the problem: You and I have been conditioned by a stoic, can-do, fast paced, adrenaline addicted, and workaholic, bigger is necessarily better, pull yourself up by the bootstrap, self-made society, to believe the lie that everything that occurs in our life is the product of our own good intentions and hard work.
You and I have, to varying extents, believed the lie that the Christian faith is primarily about sin and judgment and that our lives are primarily about the things we collect, what we accomplish, and the things which we do.
Rather than define our worth according to His beautiful love for us, we define ourselves by what we achieve, when the truth is that He who says, “I’m a self-made man,” simply demonstrates the horror of unskilled labor.
Is it any wonder that so many believers fail to enter into the rest of God’s sovereign provision when we live in a Church culture which has elevated the status of man and devalued the status of the sovereign ruler of the universe?
Is it really that shocking that the general consensus with regard to stress, fear, anxiety is only marginally different in the Church than in the mainstream culture when we have plundered the Egyptians to such an extent that even upon close inspection, our lives reflect more of mainstream American culture than they do the radical love and grace found in abundance at the Cross of our redeemer?
I submit to you here in this moment that until and to the extent to which we take the focus in our worship, in our preaching, in our lives off of me and place it squarely and completely upon our sovereign redeemer, we shall not find the peace, the power, the provision fighting the battles of this life, that we seek.
The major themes, conduct, and actions of our lives in the modern era echo the words of the Psalmist in Psalms 55:4-8, where it says, “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest – I would flee far away and stay in the desert; Selah I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” (NIV)