The word “rest” has a connotation of inactivity, sleeping, or simply not being in work mode. This English word presents itself in a way that may be contradictory to our spiritual viewpoint. Did you know that the name “Noah” means rest? It’s interesting to see that even as far back as Noah, we can see the grace and imagery of Jesus Christ. Noah received a message from God that He was going to send the flood. Noah was hardworking but received specific instructions on how to build the ark which took him and his family 55 – 75 years to do. After this major project, God shut the door and the rain came down. This is a first glimpse of the ministry formula.
- Hear from God
- Follow Direct Instructions
- Wait for the next prompting
- Rest in Him
- Wait for next instruction
So what does rest have to do with Jesus? Most assume that we must “work” in order to please Christ but let us start to dive deep into what the scripture says is beneficial for us. Noah says a bit about hearing to working but how do we go from working to resting?
Mary & Martha
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
So let us break down this powerful story of “resting”. Did Martha do wrong in what she was trying to accomplish for Jesus? Yes and No would be the most appropriate and short answer. Martha desired to accommodate Jesus and the disciples into her home and wanted to do her best to show honor and hospitality toward Jesus. This by itself showed that her motives were in the right place up until the scripture says that she was distracted. Doing duties to please God instead of abiding in God can be a miss of our heart towards God. So what does this mean? This small part tells us that duties such as ministry and other works that we do in order to “please” God can get in the way of our intimacy. Ministry is just another word for an operation of serving in God’s kingdom. I will be doing an article later on ministry and how every Christian is called to minister (serve). Ministry in short is born from intimacy. In a natural sense it would be unhealthy to care and love for a child and neglect the spouse who helped you to create the child to begin with. That child just like ministry was born from the connection we have with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Humility vs. Digilence
It then turns even worse when she starts to complain about all the work that needs to be done and that her sister isn’t doing anything to help her. This of course was a boastful spirit and Jesus had to remind her that even though lots of things needed to be done in her eyes, Mary picked the most important task which was sitting at His feet and listening to what He was saying. Jesus is urging us to stop being such church-busy- bodies and get back to intimacy. There is nothing wrong with ministry, I love ministry, and I still do it till this day but the problem comes in when we look at what we did, more than what we received. This is one of the biggest examples of what we see in the following verse.
“For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.” – Hebrews 4:10-11
Hebrews sums up the attitude that Jesus showed in the previous passage. Jesus pointed out that not so many things are needed but only one and this is crucial for all levels of Christianity. Without instruction, wisdom, and insight we are led to believe that whatever we are doing is pleasing or sufficient even though it could mean the opposite. According to this verse, we must “labor into His rest” which means that we are actively listening and abiding in God. This is where our true power comes from. It’s God in us that fills us up and quickens our spirit but we must surrender our own agenda and silence our own souls to be good and studious followers of Jesus Christ. Hebrews says also that it is disobedient for us not to rest in God.
Fill Our Cup
We must strive and be persuaded even now to seek the teachings of God like Mary. God can only fill us up when we stand still. Imagine holding a cup under a running faucet and you keep swinging the cup back and forth rapidly. How long do you think it will take before you fill that cup verses sitting the cup underneath the water? We are the cup, the Holy Spirit is the water, and our action must be stillness. Let stillness be your new action word. I pray that you receive and no longer feel the diligence of Martha but instead find and labor into the rest of God. Ministry grows from rest, your soul benefits from it, and indeed your body longs for it. Neglecting spiritual intimacy will run you dry and no one can be quenched by an empty cup!
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