Maybe you know Kermit’s song from the Muppets, ‘It ain’t easy being green.’ Well, many of you already know this, it ain’t easy being a Christ-follower during the pandemic! We may feel overwhelmed at all we have to do. We may have a passion for serving others, for spreading the kingdom, but we do become weary. There’s so much change, so much that it is so different than it was only last February.
In Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30, I believe Jesus addresses our stress, our burnout, our apprehension, our weariness. Here are the last three verses, Jesus words that apply to us today: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I believe Jesus offers these words to comfort those of us who are passionate about following Jesus, truly living as Jesus directs us, passionate to see God’s kingdom realized here on earth – the blind see, the lame walk, the poor are fed, all are loved and appreciated no matter economic standing or skin color. But even though you may be motivated by the passion for following what Jesus said, working toward bringing into reality God’s world can be as exhausting as it is exhilarating.
For those of you who may feel that way today, hear Jesus’ promise to you. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Jesus invites us to come. Isn’t that God’s invitation to each of us every day? God reaches out to us relentlessly, continuously with open arms. Come. Come with our doubts, with our fears, with our limitations, with our sins. Come. Jesus’ welcome is always there. All we have to do is accept it.
All. Come, to me, all you who are weary and burdened. The invitation Jesus offers is not for a select group or the in-group. Jesus welcomes all. Not some, not a few. Not just those with Bible knowledge. Jesus welcomes all. Those with baggage. Those who try to do the right thing but seem to never quite make it. Everyone is welcome. Jesus is inclusive. He doesn’t care who you are or whether you are rich or poor, black or white, red or purple. Jesus welcomes us all.
Finally, Jesus offers rest. I’m sure with the stay-at-home order and the worry about catching the COVID virus, many of you would just like to breathe, relax and rest. Jesus says he offers rest. Rest from the fear about the present pandemic. Rest from the concern about the current racial unrest. Rest from the worry about the polarization in the USA’s society. Rest from just the everyday stress of living as a Christ-follower.
Jesus is not offering relief from pain and sorrow. He’s not offering an exemption from life’s troubles.
What Jesus offers is himself, his presence. Jesus was human. He knows what it means to love, to laugh, to suffer. Jesus experienced life situations many of us have lived and are living each day. Ultimately, Jesus died because he lived in a world full of pain and suffering which he pointed out to the religious leaders. That got him crucified. But God raised Jesus from the dead to show us that Jesus was truly God and Jesus’ message was to be believed and lived. We can rest in the knowledge that Jesus has overcome death. We can rest knowing that God loves us. We can rest knowing and believing that in life and death we belong to God. That’s something to take comfort in, to rest in.
As Christ-followers, we’ve much work to do in our divided and divisive world to bring the kingdom of God to earth: working to feed the hungry, working to see that all have equal opportunities. We have work to do to love our neighbor as our self. And this work can be draining. But Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Sometimes we get so busy we forget to rest in Jesus’ loving arms. Think about what you can do to follow Jesus and live and love as he did. Jesus will be there for you, you only need to allow yourself to be aware, to take time to be still and to listen for and accept his comforting words and presence.