Search This Blog

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Change the company you keep

28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
(Matthew 11:28-30)

After announcing that there would be harsh judgment to those who rejected the Messiah, Jesus takes a little time to give hope to those who have determined that the old ways of religious zealousness are no longer "doing it" for them.  He prays to his Father God, thanking him for keeping the secrets of the Kingdom from those with no motives beyond religious activity and revealing them to "ordinary people" - people like you and me.  

No one knows the Father unless they know the Son.  That is the basis of his teaching - know me, the Son of God, and you will know the one who sent me, my Father God.  Why is this important?  Jesus tells us that know one really knows the Father like the Son does.  Isn't that so true?  Our kids know us so well!  They have seen us with our bad hair days, been right there when we compromised our values, and challenged us when we held up one standard for them and another for ourselves!  So, it stands to reason that when Jesus says no one really knows the Father like he does, it is truth!

Now he presents three questions to his listeners - ordinary people like you and me:
1)  Are you tired?  Tiredness comes from exertion - sometimes it even comes from over-exertion.  He is asking if they are exhausted by all the effort they have been putting into "being righteous".  
2)  Are you worn out?  When we run for so long, we become depleted of energy.  As our energy wanes, we soon lack enthusiasm in what it is that we are doing.   He is asking if they are tired of just doing things by the books, as if doing them from memory with no real heart behind it.  
3)  Are you burned out on religion?  That which is burned out is totally consumed - there is no effectiveness in what it is they are doing any longer.  He is asking if they are tired of living ineffective lives.

We can probably associate will all three of these questions!  Exhausted by our efforts to be righteous, lacking enthusiasm because all we do is sucking us dry, and totally ineffective in our testimony, as a result.  The answer to these three questions:
1)  Come to me.  Plain and simple - go to the source of energy, to the supply of sufficiency.  Stop wallowing around in your own efforts to be righteous and take up new company - company with Jesus.
2)  Get away with me and you will recover your life.  He is offering us the ability to bring balance back to our lives once again.  Balance is not found in the "doing", but in the "being".  When we are content to just "be" with Jesus, we find our greatest balance.
3)  Walk with me and work with me.  Jesus does not present the life of laying around in a field of wildflowers, just consuming the air and taking in the beauty.  These are action words - walk with him and work with him.  Walk suggests "keeping current" with Jesus.  When we "walk with" someone through life, we are involved with them daily, moment-by-moment.  Work suggests that "keeping current" involves us being right there with him in the day-to-day activities he engages in (reaching out to the rejected of the world).

Jesus concludes with the idea that we "learn the unforced rhythms of grace".  Read that again - the UNFORCED rhythms of GRACE.  Grace is not earned - it is given freely.  Grace is not crammed down your throat - it is extended willingly for the taking and enjoyment.  The idea is that we come to a place where the company we keep brings us out of the FORCED rhythms of religious pursuits and into the UNFORCED rhythms of his unmerited grace and favor.

The final invitation he extends - keep company with me.  He invites us to make him our "usual" companion in life.  We all favor certain individuals in our daily life - walking closer to some than others.  He asks that we keep him as the closest!