On Labor Day, Rest From Work, Rest In Christ

Restful beach scene, Labor Day weekend.

Quicker post today, on Labor Day.

Most of us are taking the day off from our jobs and enjoying time with family and friends.  (Thanks to those of you who are working, so we can rest.)

Labor Day isn’t exactly a major holiday, but it’s a good chance not only to relax, but to reflect on the deeper rest God invites us into through Christ.

On the most obvious level, Labor Day celebrates the contributions normal workers make to the wellbeing of our country.  And acknowledges that we all need a little rest and time off.  The country will go on just fine even when things shut down for a day.

God’s Invitation To Rest

The bible has a lot to say about our need for rest.  The Old Testament commanded regular rhythms of rest, including a weekly day off (Sabbath; see Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) and seven significant feasts (see Leviticus 23).  This was one way God helped his people avoid exhaustion and burnout.

But physical rest points to our need for a much deeper rest.  A rest from trying to find our meaning and value from constant achievement and accomplishment.  From the unrest that comes with trying to keep every little corner of our lives under order and control.  (Honestly, I’m trying not to make today about getting to all the stuff I feel like I have to, all the ‘shoulds’ in my head.)

Hebrews 4 shows us how we can find a rest that’s way more important than a day off from work.

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  

It’s a complicated passage, but the writer is saying Christians have already entered ‘God’s rest’.  So, we don’t need to exhaust ourselves, trying to earn that on our own (‘has also rested from his works’). Instead, we can relax, ‘as God did’ on the seventh day.

Most importantly, all this is possible because of Jesus’ work for us.  The writer goes on to say that Jesus was ‘tempted as we are, yet without sin’, so we can ‘with confidence draw near to the throne of grace’, to God.  (Hebrew 4:15,16).  Even our worst sins and failures can’t keep us from God.  Because of what Jesus did, he loves being close to us now, and he’ll bring that to completion when Jesus returns.

Rest In Your Life, Even When Life Isn’t Restful

That can give us a deep peace and rest even when life remains crazy.  When our job is stressful.  When we’re feeling insecure.  When we’re raising young kids who constantly need our attention.  When our marriage is challenging.  And when our health isn’t what it used to be.

So, I hope you’re slowing down today to rest.  Taking a nap, hanging out with friends, whatever you like to do.  But even better, I hope you’ll take a few moments to pause on the deeper rest, calm and peace that Jesus has won for you through his life and death.  Because it doesn’t depend on you, that’s a rest you can’t mess up.

For reflection:

  1. Where are you experiencing a lack of peace and rest in your life right now?
  2. How would that begin to change as you reflect on Jesus’ work for you?