Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Burned out religion...or Sabbath based work...?

"Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God's people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won't be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they're not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul." -2 Timothy 2:14-17

Man-made religion burns out sincere workers, spoils the crops and drives people away from the way of Christ. It's rooted in the insecure, works based righteousness of broken, ego driven people. When performance based religion motivates our endeavors...people secretly compete, often complain, many times outright undermine or do so in a passive aggressive way with an insincere coyness. Like Christian masochists they internally seethe with insufferable persnicketiness and it can spread like battlefront gangrene. If you really love those who are called to work out the victory of Christ among the masses that the Lord loves; then Frontline surgery is often needed. That means in the fray of activity you have to chop the stumps off, hack away at the putrid rottenness, gouge out the disenfranchised disease. It's bloody, tiring work but its critical to maintain the life of your soldiers and sustain the advance of the unfolding of love.

"Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk..."If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word,
-Is 58:9,13

When wide, open-eyed, sweaty labor is motivating our works in order to earn acceptance; we end up spreading the natural divisiveness of fallen life. But when the blind works of grace are motivating the loving of our neighbors...a sweet fragrance of congeniality, silent humility and gentleness surrounds the movements of Christ. His mission is a yoke, but not one that chaffs raw or constantly divides or pits one ox against the other. Instead it leads in a non-driven way, not breathless but actually, meanders...purposefully.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”-Matthew 11:28-30

His yoke is easy and its light. His work will make you tired but it wont make you weary in the bones...religion does that. It's light but not because it's without weight, it needs strength to carry...but He provides the power by His Spirit. It's a load but not the kind that buries the burdens but in a Christ illuminating way..we share in His sufferings, and there's a sweetness in that gift. It's a work of mission but not the heavenly draft...its not forced labor or demanded service but entered into freely. This freedom is the joy producing characteristic that should permeate the attitude of Christ followers. This path ensures that they lose the ability to point the finger or guilt others into the work.

This is the Sabbath sustained rhythm, of grace empowered mission....anything else, is like doing a full days work while being nauseous; it may pay the bills, but its sickening drudgery.

1 comment:

DaveJ said...

The cool thing about yokes is that they are carved specifically to fit the shoulders of each animal. Only the cruelest master would require an animal to work with the wrong yoke. The church often tries to shoehorn people into "filling a hole" in ministry when that yoke does not fit. I value our philosophy of matching people to ministry so the yoke will fit and not leave terrible wounds. For this farm is a vivid picture of the way things should be.