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Finding Rest in (and for) a Restless World

Dear Friends—                                                                                                    

When did so many of the mainline denominations begin to go adrift and lose their way? Why? How? What happened? Today hundreds, if not thousands, of those same churches and now non-denominational expressions of the Church, are adopting wokeism, universalism, neo-paganism, etc., and arrogantly moving from any form of Christian orthodoxy, all while simultaneously and carelessly hitching a ride on the slippery slope upon which our present-day culture is sliding. Absolute madness, and at lightning speed … at any cost! So many questions. It’s important to raise such questions because history will, inevitably, repeat itself. We are not exempt, especially if we don’t remain vigilant and deeply rooted in Christ, being well-rested for these disquieting days.

No doubt, many of you have considered a vast array of possible responses to the fore-mentioned questions—Maybe it was because we shifted from the centrality/primacy of the Word of God, or perhaps it was how we began compromising on many ‘social issues’ in the name of compassion but forgetting that this compassion should remain grounded in Christ-centered orthodoxy, or possibly it was because of our introducing various forms of ‘contemporary’ worship to reach the bitter-battered-bored, but compromising truth. The list goes on. Maybe these responses will not provide definitive answers, but they can certainly help us to navigate a more effective and faithful future.

However, there is one obvious response that I hear little, if any, conversation about: Maybe it was because our leadership, as a whole, did not lead or work out of life-giving rest, but only found this rest after leading and working and doing … and doing some more, thereby losing its way. It seems that we’ve struggled with the age-old challenge of doing and not being, like Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 19:9-12) and so many witnesses before us, forgetting about just being still and resting in the grace of Christ, and daring to ‘hear’ His Voice, in the midst of it all!I’m convinced that we would not be where we are today, with a large portion of the Church no longer practicing traditional Christian orthodoxy, had its leaders maintained a posture of resting—IN Christ. Without spending time in this place of rest—praying (not petitioning!), waiting, and abiding—at the very least, our senses become dull and we can lose our ability to discern the spirit of this present age (cf. Romans 13:11-14). A restless world, indeed! Perhaps, that’s why the author of Hebrews is so concise about the necessity of rest: “So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from His. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience.” What does this mean to you, here and now, in your present context?

So, yes, I am writing this brief article, more as a personal letter, as a follow-up to the article I wrote for the November issue of CORE Voice Newsletter called REST, INC. As your colleague, I’m simply inviting you to re-evaluate your own personal pattern of building rest into your daily schedule. Many years ago, I became intensely aware of my own unhealthy pattern of not taking time to rest and choosing instead to live out my ordained calling through the obligatory production of parochial reports, and so much more! It was about then that I bumped into Acts 6:1, 2 where it reads, “ … the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word (and later in v. 4, “ … we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”) to serve tables.’” For many reasons, this passage spoke volumes to me in how I would “do” ministry henceforth. I would stop waiting on tables, putting out fires, meeting all expectations, etc. I would, instead, begin the practice of rest.

Rest will not only serve as the antidote to help us, in our pastoral-prophetic roles, to avoid the slippery slope of which I spoke in the opening paragraphs, but it’ll greatly enhance our ability to attend to the paramount work of disciple-making and mission. Find the rest you need, and even fight for it. There is much on the line.

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