“Rest is at the heart of our relationship with God and is a fundamental reflection of our faith . . . Resting is intimately tied to faith – which is one reason why most of us avoid it.” – Paul Marshall
Dearest Hope Family,
At the heart of the Gospel, what makes it truly good news and not just another life-hack-instruction manual, is resting upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.
In these months of COVID, racial tensions have been brought into sharper and clearer focus, political rancor and cynicism is seemingly winning the day. With phenomena like murder hornets and Saharan dust clouds, rest has been elusive, and restlessness has become familiar.
For the next two Sundays we are opening our ears to what the Bible has to say about the heart of the Gospel – this invitation to entrust our hearts, broken and burdened by sin, into the forgiving hands of God and to relax in his healing embrace and this renewed call to live, work, and play using that rest as our launching pad and our home base.
This is not necessarily new territory for us as a church. We have in my short tenure here passed this way several times. However, please do not treat this as an isolated issue about which you need to develop and refine a theological conviction. Please do not treat this as re-tread about slowing down and smelling the roses or getting yourself into corporate worship consistently to be a good Sabbath-keeper. Please do not let the invitation to Gospel rest be relegated to a nice Bible-world idea that has no relevance in our modern culture.
Instead, let your own restlessness and our collective unrest dig out new ears to hear what Thomas Kelly describes in his book, A Testament of Devotion: “Over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living, which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power.”
Paul Marshall connects the dots for us between salvation and rest: “When we rest we acknowledge that all our striving will, of itself, do nothing. Rest means letting the world pass us by for a time. Genuine rest requires acknowledging that God and our brothers and sisters can survive without us. It requires recognizing our own insufficiency and handing over responsibility. It is truly surrendering to the ways of God. It is a moment of celebration, when we acknowledge that blessing comes only from the hand of God. That is why rest requires faith. It is also why salvation can be pictured as rest. When we rest we accept God’s grace: we do not seek to earn; we receive. We do not justify; we are justified.”
I am looking forward to attending to God’s gracious invitation with you all yet again.
I am eagerly anticipating the blessing of yielding my/our restlessness to Jesus and celebrating his rich provision.
Peace of Christ,