The last few days have left me raw. God is stripping back layers of incorrect of thinking and is enabling me to finally put into words this uphill struggle. I’ve been striving for rest.
A friend has spurred me on to write more about this and then this morning the sermon on Christ’s Rest that Peter preached, added to this line of thought.
I hesitate to even write the words, to admit this to you. But here it is. I don’t understand the Gospel and I don’t know if I will without the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel was presented to me in such a skewed way, to those of us that grew up in Fundamental circles. This sounds like I’m making a broad assumption but we attended 4 different Fundamental Baptist Churches due to moves and they all taught the same thing.
Here’s some background.
Witnessing was in important part of our life. Some people called it “door-knocking”. Basically you went door-to-door passing out informational pamphlets and asking folks if “you died today, do you know where you would spend eternity? If they answered ‘no’, we proceeded to ask them if they wanted to go to heaven (well, sure, duh, who wouldn’t?) Then we told them how – just pray this prayer, God will forgive your sins, and you’ll get your ticket to heaven.
We did talk about sin and how we all have it. But the emphasis was more about what we wanted rather than what God wanted ( a ticket to heaven vs. a restoration of fellowship and a child who glorified His name) .
The Gospel was presented falsely. It was presented in a way that appealed to my greed and pride. Yes, my sin was pointed out, but it was such a minor player in the whole presentation.
The emphasis of ‘come as you are – there’s no need to change’ was at the fore-front. But that changed once you got saved and started attending church.
Just picture a line of men and one for women. They’re headed into church thinking they’re accepted by the ‘church people’ but upon getting to the door something happens. They’re handed the essentials – a Bible, jumper or suit and tie, and a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’. Both are welcomed in now that they’ve changed.
We were naive.
We thought the one’s who lead us to Christ were representative of what Christ said and did. We had to meet their expectations for what a ‘good’ Christian was.
Therefore we were meeting the expectations of Christ.
Along with the meeting of expectations came the measure of spirituality. This lead to pride. If you went ‘witnessing’, attended every service, didn’t go to movies, listened to the right music, wore the right clothes, etc., you were a ‘good Christian’ and had the right to judge those who didn’t go those things.
It was always about performance. If I pleased the others then surely I was pleasing God. And, when I fell from their graces, I, in turn, fell from God’s.
This is not the Gospel!
This is not rest – this is striving. Always striving.
And if I’m constantly striving – viewing my works as the measure of my spirituality, viewing my works as the measure of my stance before Christ – I am not entering into His rest but am going back to the Law and am living in bondage.
The Cross and Bondage cannot dwell together. Because if I’m living in the bondage of works, then I’m saying that the work that He did on the Cross wasn’t enough.
That is living a lie.
Hebrews 4 lays it out there for us in verses 9-10:
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
Let that sink in – We enter into His rest and in turn rest from our works. We rest from our works.
21 versions of the same verse say the same thing.
When I think of entering into Christ’s rest, I picture myself standing on the outside waiting to be asked into the Hall labeled “Christ’s Rest”, not realizing that I’ve been holding an invitation in my hand the whole time.
How did I miss this? I’ve read Hebrews many times and not once has this stood out to me. But now the Holy Spirit is slowly showing me this beautiful truth. He’s guiding my eyes to the invitation in my hand that says I can now enter into His rest.
The striving is over.