Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28,29
The Gospel has the power to bring God’s life to people because it is a supernatural message. It is a message about what God has done for all people. It is not a message about what people need to do for God. Messages about what people should be doing for God, may sound very good, because we all value good advice. But they don’t bring life, because they don’t point you to God and say “Isn’t He good?” They point you to yourself and say “Why aren’t you better?” Many of us as believers, have been fed in church for years a diet of good advice.
Jesus did not die, so that you would have access to good advice. He died so that you and I could have access to His table. He died so that we could take our seats at His table and partake of the richest food in the world, communion with God (Eph.2:6)
I have spoken recently of a family birthday tradition that Nicola has followed for years with each of our children. On the morning of their birthday they find the kitchen and breakfast table covered in balloons and decorations, with sweets and presents on the table. She only asks one thing of each of them; that they take a seat and enjoy the generous provision that she has lovingly and freely provided. Her joy is to see their faces when they see the table, for they are the faces of children who know that what they see is already theirs, who know that they have absolutely nothing to do to earn this feast, only sit down and enjoy it. How our Father in heaven must yearn to see that look of joy on the faces of the men and women for whom He provided the greatest and most precious gift ever; a seat at His table, a share in His life.
What would you think as a parent, if you prepared and laid out a feast like that for your child, only to watch them day after day, spend so long washing their hands before they come to the table, that every morning, they run out of time and never make it to the feast? Now you have some idea of how the Father must feel over His Church, His children, trying so hard, for years to clean themselves up, that they have yet to know what it is to sit down at His table. What do you think our Father in heaven feels like, when the Church teaches a message that keeps His children trying to clean themselves up for so long, that although they have been Christian for years, yet they have still not partaken of the joy and liberty and extravagant abundance of the life prepared and laid out before them; a life free from fear, guilt and shame?
Here is the Gospel. Through Christ, the Father “brought you to the banqueting house and His banner over you is love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4)
Any teaching that places your hope of union with God, on your life, on how clean your life is, (let’s call that religion), will effectively separate you in your mind from God. Religion separates people from God and then makes a living on charging them to draw near. The moment you as a believer, start to think that the state of your life, separates you from God’s Spirit, then you have just given away the gift of His rest and opened yourself up to believe every strange teaching blowing through the church, that will tell you something you should be doing, or praying, or giving to get closer to God.
The reason many of us as Christians struggle to know the rest and peace of God, in the midst of this world of trouble, is that in our minds we have become separated from God. Someone has directed us away from the table of His presence and back to the sink to wash ourselves for the umpteenth time.
When Jesus speaks of coming to Him for rest in Matthew 11:28, why does He start to talk about giving us a yoke? Because a yoke is the means by which two lives become one. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, were the means by which two lives could become one; yours and His. To come to Him, is to accept His yoke, to accept union with Him. Now what God has joined together, let not man put asunder. Rest for your soul is only found when you will accept union with Christ, accept that
“He who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17)
Jesus left water baptism to help the renewal of the mind, the thinking of all believers. You were water baptised to help you get rid of the idea that you could live the life of union with God, while at the same time live a life separate from God. That old ‘separated from God’ life, that ‘trying to clean myself up’ life, died and was buried.
The day I married Nicola, my old separated life, single life, apart from her life, ended. Two became one. This is a mystery, but it is a reality that I live in every day. Because my heart was fully persuaded of the truth of our union, then my mind became totally renewed to this reality. I don’t have to try hard every day to be married to Nicola, I just am. It is totally effortless, because the substance, the nature of our union is LOVE, a shared love that yokes us together as one.
Jesus promised, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. If you have to try hard to be a Christian every day, that is just a sign that your mind is not renewed yet to the truth that….Your life for Him, does not make you a Christian. His life in you makes you a Christian!
Is there discipline and effort in my life as a Christian? Yes, but not to earn the rest of God, but to enter into the rest of God. “Make every effort to enter that rest”, the Lord declares (Hebrews 4:11). It is an effort to enter into the rest, of union with Christ, because the foundation of that rest is a truth that the ego struggles to receive; your old single life died. As the spirit of this world lifts up you and your ego and as that spirit of performance is also at work in the church, then it requires an effort to enter the rest of God because the world and most of the Church are flowing in the other direction. They are not pointing to God and saying “Isn’t He good?” but pointing to you and saying “Why aren’t you better?”
A mother does not have to produce a child, she only bears a child. Christian, God is not asking you to produce the life of Christ, only bear the life of Christ. That is why Jesus sent His disciples out into the world with these words…“Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8), because He knew that none of us can give without a revelation of what we have already received.
God never asks us to do anything, that His life in us doesn’t want to do or isn’t able to do. In truth He never asks us to do anything but what His life in us can do, for He is convinced and wants us to be too, that we are a totally new creation, joined to Him in spirit and have within us the same miracle working spirit that rose Christ from the dead. If I want my children to be convinced of their worth in my eyes, then I refuse point blank to address them in any other way, but in the truth of their worth. Even if they feel badly about themselves, I refuse to speak to them in agreement with the way they feel, but want my words to lift them up into the truth of their great worth.
Please listen carefully. Even though you and I may struggle to see ourselves as one with God in Spirit, supernatural children of a supernatural God, our Father cannot agree to speak to us according to how we feel. He cannot speak a lie. This is why the things the Holy Spirit says to His Church will appear to natural soulish thinking as foolishness, whereas the things that a mere religious spirit would teach appear quite reasonable. Have you never noticed that religion only asks of you what is possible? It will tell you; pray more, do more, give more, all of which are possible and appeal to the “me” life, what I can do forGod. But the Holy Spirit does not speak to believers of the possible, but of the impossible. He says “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”(Matt.10:8)
Why? Why does the Holy Spirit ask of believers, things which, apart from God’s Spirit, are impossible to do? Because He can see clearly what we have not yet seen. As believers, we are NOT apart from the Spirit of God, but are one spirit with Him. The life He has called us to is NOT a natural “do you best for God” life. It is “God’s best IN you” life. The Holy Spirit does not speak to the “me” life. He speaks to the “us” life (1Cor.6:19). When we teach Christians that rather than pray to God for the sick, that they should heal the sick, many actually get offended that we are asking of them the impossible! The ironic thing is, that when I look across the body of Christ, what I see is Christians getting burnt out, not by trying to do the impossible, but by trying to do nothing but the possible and striving to do it better! God asks of us the impossible, for that is who He insists we now are; people yoked to the God of the impossible, a people who have ceased from their ‘possible’ works and found the rest of allowing His life in us, the impossibly good life, to be our life.