So I was reading in Isaiah today, and if you’ve never read the prophets, you sure are missing out on a ton of context for what Jesus says. In many ways, Jesus is reminding his people what God has been saying for thousands of years. Really, at the heart, the message hasn’t really changed.
In chapter 28, I ran across this passage:
“[…] he will speak to this people, to whom he said: ‘This is the resting place, give rest to the weary; And this is the place of repose’ – but they refused to hear. So for them the word of the LORD shall be: ‘Command on command, command on command, rule on rule, here a little, there a little!'”
There’s a ton of context before and after this passage having to do with Judah’s refusal to rely completely on God and instead use alliances with other nations as a safeguard. It’s also a condemning chapter on those who are too focused on making themselves happy rather than focusing on the priorities of God and fellow humans. So why did it catch my eye?
Well, it certainly sounds like what the church has done to itself, to be honest. Think about it, Jesus words were, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And, yet, how does the outside world view the church? “Shoo buddy, those Christians have a lot of rules!”
There have been times in my life where this is what it has felt like to follow Jesus. “Don’t do this. Make sure you do that. A little here, a little there. Command on command, rule on rule.” And really, is that any way to live?
Now, am I advocating a libertine lifestyle where everything goes? Not at all. See, it’s not so much about what we’re not allowed to do as much as it is what we choose to give up or add in because we love Jesus. “All things are permissable, but not all things are beneficial.”
When we frame the disciple’s life for others, maybe we should phrase it in context of Jesus’ desire for us to have the best life – not the happiest, or most desirable – but the best life. The church should be a place of rest, not of excessive criticism and anger.