“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
I’ve been participating in a lot of church committee meetings lately. All in all, that’s a good thing. In fact, it’s something that I requested, since I’ve been trying to use these gatherings as a learning tool to “get up to speed” on the ministries that are taking place in the Calvary Baptist family. However, I did have an experience the other night that made me wonder…
I was standing out in the church parking lot—waiting for some committee members to arrive for one of those meetings—and all the people who I saw pull in were talking on their cell phones as they arrived. Now I’ve got nothing against cell phones, and sometimes I wonder how we ever got along without them. But the sight off all these good folks heading into yet another meeting while simultaneously attempting to deal with other life issues reminded me: Sometimes the way that we live seems mighty far from the “rest for our souls” that Jesus promised.
Of course, this “hurry sickness” would be problem enough if it was just the result of “the world” or “the culture” pressing us into its mold. But often—too often, perhaps—I find that the church is at least somewhat guilty of adding to the problem rather than easing it. We get focused on all the good things we want to do for the Lord…things like teach the Bible, minister to children and youth, serve those in need, and so on. And so we form committees and recruit volunteers and schedule meetings. And all of this is well and good, until we get to the point—that in the midst of our efforts to “do things for the Lord”—we miss the Lord himself.
I feel this tension quite strongly as a pastor…and perhaps even more as a new pastor. As the leader of an organization that we call the local church, it is natural and appropriate to ask the question: What do we need to do to accomplish our mission? But as the pastor (or “under shepherd”) of God’s flock, it seems equally important to ask: How can I get out of the way so that the Good Shepherd can “make us lie down in green pastures, lead us beside still waters, and restore our souls”?
In the weeks and months ahead, I have little doubt that we’re going to identify lots of good things that we can do to glorify God and to bear witness to His kingdom here in our community. And I hope that we’ll do at least some of those things with whole-hearted commitment and joy. But through it all, I hope that we’ll always keep in view the essential truth that our faith is not built on the things we do. It’s built on what God has done. It really is all a gift of grace…and we as a church are accomplishing the most when we help people rest in that gift.
So thanks for all the things you do, Calvary Baptist. But thanks, too, for those times you stop…and put down the cell phone…and close the inbox…and simply abide in the greatest truth of all: God loves you! (And I love you, too.)
Rest in that…