Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hard lessons

I've been teaching from A. W. Tozer's book, The Pursuit of God in my Sunday School class. This is a fantastic book that I get more from each time I read it. Today we were talking about chapter 9, "Meekness and Rest." Tozer relies on Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." and also on Matthew 11:28-30, where Jesus tells us to take up his yolk, for his burden is light.

Personally, I have had great trouble with both of these passages. Being meek is just not in my nature, I tend to push back against those who push and against most authority. That's just something I need to work on and I'm sure I'll come back to it at some time. However, the second set of verses has also troubled me and from reading the chapter of Tozer's I think I've finally come to terms with it.

First, in Matthew 11:28, Christ says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." What is our burden that is so tiring, exhausting that we need rest from? Tozer lays out three burdens that we create for ourselves; Pride, Pretense, and Artificiality. Pride causes us to be constantly on guard of our own perceived honour. It keeps us on edge, listening closely and ready to jump to our defense from any slight or negative opinion. Pretense is that desire to always look and be seen doing your best and at the same time hiding our weaknesses. This keeps us in a constant state of fear that we might be found out, it gnaws at us constantly. Artificiality is that persona we try to project to the world. This also leaves us fearing that someone will see through it, be smarter than us, or more well traveled, more well read. I've really never had too much problem with understanding that we have heavy burdens, though it was enlightening to look at some of them that we create for ourselves.

Next is the part I've not understood so well. Christ says, "
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” in Matthew 11:30. I found it interesting that I never questioned what "my burden" Christ was talking about, it seemed straight forward to me. But I guess it's not, I had a couple of people ask me just what I thought it was. I always got caught up on the "easy" and "light" part. As I see it, Christ's burden is that we follow his example in our lives and that we work toward fulfilling the Great Commission. My trouble has always been seeing this as "easy" or "light." The first scripture that comes to mind is Revelation 2:10, that says we are to be faithful unto death. Also in Hebrews 12:4, it says that we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. These don't particularly seem "easy" or "light."

Finally, reading this chapter for the fourth or fifth time has helped me see this in a very different way. We put a terrible amount of pressure and stress on ourselves. Society and culture add to this. We live with these stresses day in and day out even to the point of needing to be medicated in order to function. That is a really heavy burden. Following Christ, really paying attention to his words and the words of the bible writers and taking them into ourselves and living it helps take a lot of that stress away. Tozer's example, the meek man's motto, "In himself, nothing; In God, everything." sums it up. If we stop relying on ourselves and being so concerned about how other's see us, what other's think about us, worrying about how the world sees us we get relief and freedom in exchange. Though it sounds simple, in practice it is harder, yet it's there none the less. By releasing the world's hold on us and only being concerned about the eternal and what God' will think of us we can get relief, rest. And this peace is what makes Christ's yoke "easy" and "light."

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