This weekend we continued our series through Hebrews: Christ is Better. The author, you’ll recall, is concerned that his audience go “all the way” with Jesus, and in chapter 4 he introduces an idea that is crucial to that end—learning to rest in Jesus.
The irony is that we’d expect he’d tell people lagging in their faith to “work harder.” Instead, he tells them to “rest better.” Our strength is proportionate to the quality of our rest. As Isaiah 30:15 says, “In quietness and confidence will be our strength.”
We saw from chapter 4 that without Christ, we will work even while we are resting. And with Christ, we will rest, even while we are working (to note, this idea comes from a message I heard “the Keller” preach on this topic. His insight was really helpful in the development of this message).
Christ is the fulfillment of Sabbath law (Heb 4:3, 10). Until we learn to rest in Him, vacations and hobbies won’t do any good. They will work more like a drug, distracting you only temporarily from the anguish of your life, only to leave you crashing back into reality.
- Christ is our righteousness. We are always trying to justify ourselves, to diminish our faults and to exaggerate our virtues. But the gospel destroys this self-deceptive striving by telling us that God has given us His righteousness as a gift. In Christ, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, nothing we have done that makes Him love us less.
- Christ is our identity. Many of us overwork because we find significance in our work. We believe that what we do gives us our identity, and so we work tirelessly, because if we slack off for a moment, our entire world is liable to fall. The gospel speaks differently. It gives us an identity that is founded on Him, not our strivings. It reminds us that we are held in highest regard by the highest Being.
- Christ is our security. One of the most practical reasons for the Sabbath is to remind us regularly that we are not in control, that we are not God. Many of us are so stressed out because we are carrying a burden of security that God never intended for us to carry. The gospel reminds us that our security is ultimately in God’s hands, not our own. To paraphrase Paul, God did not spare his own Son—won’t He also freely give us all that we need (Romans 8:30)? If we understand that “the Lord builds the house” and “the Lord watches the city,” we can sleep peacefully at night (Ps 127:1-3). We are responsible only to be faithful with the time, opportunity and ability God has given us. Ultimately, God is responsible for the house and the city.
- Christ is our priority. There is rest in having Christ as our priority. If we honor Him above everything, He promises to take care of the rest (cf. Matthew 6:33). We no longer need to worry and obsess about money, about relationships, about work. We focus only on faithfulness. A “priority,” by definition, can only be one thing. Saying “these are my (multiple) priorities” is like saying “I have multiple favorite flavors of sno-cones.” If Christ is your sole “priority,” you can be sure He’s taking care of everything on the secondary list.
Christ offers us inner rest: He will be our righteousness, identity, security, and priority, if we simply believe in His gospel.