“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28–30
The pressure is ever-present; the message is clear. You must become better today than you were yesterday. People chase money, goods, prestige, status, stability, attractiveness, longevity, power, influence, success, happiness. Chasing after that elusive wind.
There is another pressure that is more subtle, more crafty, more cunning:
- You should become a better Christian today than you were yesterday.
- You should chase knowledge, character, rightness, humility, love, and goodness.
- Learn more.
- Understand more.
- Pray more.
- Love more.
- Thank more.
- Rejoice more.
- Serve more.
- Produce more fruit.
And so we work in order to move ahead, in order to move away from where we are, in order to move away from who we are, trapped in these carnal minds with feet of clay. If I improve, then perhaps I will become more acceptable. If I try hard to be better, putting forth effort, perhaps my effort itself will be credited to me as righteousness. Find more straw. Mold more clay. Make more bricks. The taskmaster wants more and more and, when you are finished, even more than what you were able to provide. Perhaps tomorrow you will be able to make enough bricks.
Then along comes Jesus. “Come to me,” he says, “all you who are weary and burdened.” The making of many bricks tends to be wearisome and burdensome: perhaps he is talking to me. He goes on, “I will give you rest.” He says he will give me rest. “Take my yoke upon you,” he says, “and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” He is gentle and he wants me to learn gentleness from him. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The internal taskmaster is hard and harsh; his yoke is difficult and his burden is heavy. The gentleness of Jesus eases the pressure, lightens the load, reduces rather than increases the quota of bricks. He gently wants me today, as I am. It is not that I should avoid improvement; it is that the improvements are not a prerequisite for his love. He loves me today; he is not waiting for me to improve. “Come here,” he says. “I will love you today. Take a load off. Stop striving. Sit here and rest with me by these still waters.”
After we have rested for a while, what do we do?
We could return to brick-making. Or perhaps we could turn to our neighbor and say, “Come here. Sit by me. I will love you today, as you are. I will not wait until tomorrow. I will not burden you. You don’t have to work so hard around me. There is no need for striving. Take a load off. When you are with me, you can rest easy.”