The first time I heard someone quote Matthew 11:27-28 from Eugene Peterson’s The Message, it stopped me dead in my tracks.
I’m continually drawn to this passage because of the refreshing language it uses to remind us that following Jesus is all about friendship and relationship, and soul rest and renewal, about living lightly without any burdens of religious performance, and about enjoying the gift and model of Christ’s unforced rhythms of grace.
Here is how the passage reads as Jesus speaks to his followers.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Does that not sound like the good life! Did you catch the themes?
Soul rest and renewal
Tired. Worn out. Burned out. Turned off from religion?
Then take a real rest!
Friendship and Relationship
Come to me. Get away with me. Walk with me.
Keep company with me.
Live lightly without the burden of performance.
Work with me. Recover your life. Live freely and lightly. Watch me.
Learn from me the unforced rhythms of grace.
This is all good news…really good news!
With these words, Jesus lays down a marker for all time. Real living with Jesus is the polar opposite of dry, institutional religion; of enforced external duty, of living under the burden of guilt, of having to rely on my own spiritual strength, or being driven to earn brownie points with a judging God.
Real living is about a life-giving relationship and deep friendship with the Lord of life that leads to a profound and lasting rest for our souls, knowing that we are secure and loved by the Lord of heaven and earth.
And real living is all about finding an identity that is birthed in grace and which walks lightly through life, free from the temptation to perform, to impress, to achieve. This is a life characterized by emulating Jesus’ unforced rhythms of grace.
It has taken years, in fact, decades, for me to grow into a fulsome understanding of how utterly non-judgmental and welcoming Jesus is. I wish it had been clear from the beginning.
Consider these remarkable words from Jesus. “For the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47).
You can’t read the Gospels without being impressed by Jesus’ unforced rhythms of grace which welcomed everyone and graciously responded to the needs of the moment, right in front of him.
Spying Zacchaeus up in the tree, he says, “Come down, I have to stay at your house.”
To the women caught in adultery he says, “Women, where are they. Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you.”
When the little kids disrupted his teaching and climbed all over him, he said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.” (Luke 18:16)
Friendship with Jesus, leading to rest for our souls and a life free from crushing burdens, and then allowing his life to produce that beautiful soul-satisfying, unforced rhythm of grace in us each day…this is the life Christ offers.
This is the life to which we are called. It’s the good and beautiful life Jesus promised when he said,
“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
“Lord, help us to get away with you, experience real soul rest and begin to recover our lives. Help us to walk with you and learn your beautiful unforced rhythms of grace. Lead us to keep company with you and discover what it means to live freely and lightly…to really live!”