What is your purpose in life? Why are you here? What exactly does God want or expect from you?
These are all common questions that people ask, and they are questions that sometimes cause doubt, confusion and even feelings of guilt and inadequacy for not knowing the answers. There are people that I have spoken with who feel restless, and unfulfilled because they think that more is required of them, and so they are constantly looking for the answer to the question of “what must I do?”.
In our conversations, I would gently suggest to them that perhaps God just wants you to relax and enjoy Him. To which, these people would force a half-smile, and a muffled laugh, because they didn’t really believe that God could want them to do nothing but simply enjoy Him – it couldn’t possibly be that simple…
Or could it…
What I want to share with you today, as you probably have guessed by now from the title of today’s study, is that yes, it really is that simple! God does simply want you to rest and enjoy Him, and enjoy the identity which He has given to you. In-fact it is vital that you do so – for your own well-being (and He knows it)! By seeing this truth today, you will finally be able to release the burden of “what must I do” – a burden which you were never meant to carry in the first place.
Many people scoff at this idea because it is contrary to the legalistic mind… the idea that you really don’t need to work for God, but you can (and should) simply enjoy Him and let Him do all of the lifting; and truthfully, He already has completed all of the work, precisely so that you can rest in Him, free of every burden.
Jesus actually said this long ago; and while we may be familiar with His words, we seldom take them seriously for what they actually are telling us. Listen again, and take a closer look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I invite you to take a moment and honestly ask yourself the question, do you have rest? Or are you so busy trying to find something to do, and some new way to work for God, that rest has long since been absent?
Now some may push back at this, and try to claim that Jesus is speaking about some kind of spiritual rest here – or a rest that only comes after we get to heaven – but the next two verses which record the rest of Jesus’ point, make it clear exactly what kind of rest which He is speaking of:
“Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Take special notice of what Jesus is saying here. He says to take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him. This is not referring to suffering for Jesus, or working for Him, but taking His yoke – the yoke which He carried, on yourself, and learning of Him. And notice that He didn’t simply say to learn about Him. This isn’t referring to learning trivia facts about Jesus, but learning of Him. Learning of His goodness, His mercy, His character, which He goes on to describe as meek and lowly in heart, which many people do not understand, but what Jesus is saying here is that His heart is not unreachable. We can touch His heart, we can have real and personal fellowship, communion and union with Him.
He is also meek. Which means although He is all powerful, we do not have to fear Him… not because He is weak and docile, but precisely because of the finished work of Christ! There is indeed a price for sin, and that price is death, no joke… but the price has been paid! Jesus paid it, and that is what so many need to hear and understand and receive today!
And then Jesus continues His statement by indicating that as we know and understand and receive these truths about Himself, we will find rest for our souls. And take notice of the detail there in that phrase: rest for your soul. This is not some spiritual-only ethereal kind of rest that sounds good but really isn’t anything tangible. No, this is real rest; rest for your soul. The Greek word ψυχή (psukhē), used there for “soul” pertains to your life, even the very breath which you breathe. This is for the here and now, not just for your future in Heaven. Jesus is telling you about the rest which He gives now, because now is when you really need it!
He’s telling everyone here, “Listen if you’re working, struggling and striving, come to Me, and I will give you the rest that you really need. Rest for your very life.”
These are the words of Jesus – we should take them seriously, and for all that they are worth. Does Jesus want you working, or does He want you resting? Forget about what religion has told you all of your life, and look at what Jesus Himself is saying right here.
Still, some people would fight against this and say that we can’t really have rest on this earth, because there’s still evil and hardship and enemies in this world.
To this, I will simply direct you to the testimony of Solomon, found in 1st Kings 5:4:
“But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor occurrence of evil.”
The LORD did this for Solomon, and Jesus testified that He is greater than Solomon in Matthew 12:42.
Are you beginning to see the amazing character of God? Are you beginning to see that He is a God that gives you rest, and doesn’t burden you with strife and striving?
You might be asking how exactly He gives us this rest… and He answers that question all the way back in Exodus 33:14, where God said this to Moses:
“And he said, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
When the presence of God goes with you, you will certainly have rest! Although not everyone realizes this. And this is precisely why we needed to lay the spiritual foundation first, of the character of God – because Jesus knew that there would be some who try to claim that God doesn’t give rest – even some who try to say that God actively throws rocks in your path to test and try you… but as we continue to look plainly at the scripture, and God’s description of Himself, without man-made religious doctrines, we can see the truth for what it is. God is a God who gives rest!
You see, you need to understand and know the love of God, before you can truly know the peace of God. If you do not know His love, you will never really be able to fully receive His peace because there will always be a latent fear. A fear of “maybe He is angry with me”, “maybe He expects me to do something.”, “maybe I’m a disappointment to Him.”, “maybe He just doesn’t care about me.”
And this is why knowing His character and His love comes first, just as Jesus said. As you see Him for who He truly is, and not for what dry religion and man0centric works-based systems have made Him out to be, you will begin to realize that He has already finished the work, and He has given you His presence for all eternity – that in-fact you are in complete union with Him, with His Holy Spirit indwelling you permanently. This is what enabled Paul to write these words in 2nd Corinthians 13:14:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.”
These words would be outright blasphemy, if they were false. How dare him even suggest that the communion of God’s own Holy Spirit be with all of us! We haven’t nearly worked enough! God certainly couldn’t fellowship with people as wretched as us!
And there, my dear friend, is the mind of the legalist. The one who is still working to become, what Jesus has already made us to be. And I sincerely believe that at this point, you see the truth – that the reason why we can rest, is because the love of God brought Jesus all the way to the cross, where he finished the work (Romans 5:8). And today we are not the old creation trying to become new, but we are the new creation resting in His finished work. (2nd Corinthians 5:17, Hebrews 4:3)
So today, if you’ve been struggling and striving to find purpose, I encourage you to receive the truth… your purpose is to be loved, and rest in who God has made you to be; a new creation in Him.