ARE YOU BURNED OUT ON RELIGION?
Sermon based on:
Matthew 11: 28 -30 (The Message)
28-30 “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.”
JESUS OFFERS ANOTHER KIND OF LIFE
Jesus offers to all another kind of life, a life where God permeates every bit of it with His presence and goodness and frees us – liberates us from either falsely believing we have to work it all out ourselves and become self- sufficient, or that we need to have it all together and be some kind of good person.
MEDITATING ON MATTHEW 11:
I’ve been meditating on the Eugene Peterson version of Matthew 11: 28 – 30 for a few years now. Wondering what its all about, what was Jesus getting at? What is He inviting me into? What am I missing or have I often missed in all Jesus offers and how do I learn the unforced rhythms of grace?
I’ve titled this morning sermon Are you burned out on religion? Drawing inspiration from The Message version of Matthew 11: 28 – 30.
My prayer for us all this morning – especially you with the weary soul – tired – somewhat burned out on religion can find space to pause
To breath and find rest -rest for your weary and tired soul.
FAITH GROWN – SEASON LIFE – REST IN
Over the years my faith has grown and matured. – I am now in a season with Jesus where I find myself resting more fully in the strange dichotomy that while I know God knows all of me, all the good stuff and the broken stuff, yet He loves me deeply and fully.
Henri Nouwen wrote a beautiful book titled Life of the Beloved – I highly recommend reading it. On page 21 Nouwen writes:
And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rest on you.” For many years I had read these words and even reflection upon them in sermons and lectures, but it is only since our talks in New York that they have taken on a meaning far beyond the boundaries of my own tradition. Our many conversations led me to the inner conviction that the words, “You are my Beloved” revealed the most intimate truth about all human beings, whether they belong to any particular tradition or not.
And I have come to the same kind of conclusion as Nouwen and others, that it is imperative this foundational truth about Gods love and acceptance of us as Gods beloved needs to be the foundation our lives are built upon.
WALK THROUGH MATTHEW 11
So, let’s take a walk through the Eugene Peterson – Message version of Matthew 11: verses 28 – 30 and see what God might want to say to us this morning.
Is there a deliberate way in which life with God works better – is freer and lighter if we take up this invitation.
I have broken these verses into 4 steps. Easy to follow and remember four steps:
STEP 1 – come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
What do we need to do most when we are weary, tired and burned out on religion? Jesus invites us to simply COME.
Stop – turn around – don’t keep pretending or work yourself into the ground.
Know how you really feel but know Jesus offers invitation. In other reading from Marks gospel Chapter 2: 15 – 17 is stating that people who know they are sick or struggling – weary – tired – will be the ones to seek out help. Admit how they are feeling and do something about it.
STEP 2 – Jesus says I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
We live in a society that seems to be addicted to GO GO GO and DO DO DO!
Yet there has never been so much anxiety, depression, mental health issues, stress, burn out and worry. To state a few modern epidemics.
Jesus invites us to come to him and in this coming and being – we will learn from Jesus how to take a real rest.
Do you know how to rest? Do you rest?
REST IN BELOVED-NESS
And this rest is deeply embedded in us resting in our beloved-ness before God. If you know – truly know you are loved and accepted you stop trying to earn love or work hard to somehow be a good person. Instead you simply accept you are Gods beloved, not because of what you do or have done but because of who you are – your identity.
In a book titled The good and beautiful God by James Bryan Smith (www.ivpress.com/the-good-and-beautiful-god) there is a chapter titled How to make a pickle. The chapter addresses societies hurry sickness – we seem to always be in a hurry – we have no time, I can’t stop, I’ve got so much to do. And if you’re not hurrying or busy doing something – well people don’t know how to relate to you.
I think Gods people have an incredible opportunity in this day and age to show others what work and rest in an ebb and flow rhythm are like so others can see we don’t need to be deceived into thinking life is all about productivity and doing.
So the remedy to weariness and tiredness – burn out – is simply to rest
STEP 3 – Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
One of my favourite theologians and writers is Dallas Willard. I love his reminder to Gods people that what we have neglected to understand is that we all are all Jesus’s apprentices – and we should view our inter- active life with Jesus from this kind of perspective. If Jesus is offering everyone a different kind of life, a life where we are being transformed into Christs image and likeness day by day then the best way to become more like Jesus is to look at what Jesus did, how Jesus went about doing things and being present towards others, and simply do likewise.
Here Jesus follows up the come to me and rest in me with – now we have things to do together. Not a sort of ‘you going off on your own – independent and autonomous’, but interdependent and collaborative working together.
UNFORCED RHYTHMS OF GRACE
Jesus wants to teach us how to live differently – how to live in the unforced rhythms of grace. This discovery as to what the unforced rhythms of grace might be about is a whole other sermon or sermons. But I encourage you to google search Dallas Willard’s definition of grace. It would appear that the biblical understanding of grace is so much more magnificent and dynamic than what many of our churches or traditions have defined it as. (https://churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/153074-dallas-willard-difference-between-grace-and-effort.html)
Oh, Jesus teach me how to live in a kind of unforced -unhurried rhythm of grace. I really need this for my life.
STEP 4 – keep company with Jesus.
Finally step 4 and what is a never ending and ongoing need for all of us to do our whole lives. We all need to keep company with Jesus. All centred upon relationship – intimacy with God – time with God – being with God.
I visualise this coming, resting, walking, working, and being as deeply intimate and stunning to consider. That the God – the entity that made all things – creator – sustainer – wants to be with me. With you.
Really all four steps are cyclical because humanity has this default mode inbuilt to keep deluding ourselves that we can work it out all on our own – we don’t need God – we don’t want Gods help etc. Guess what happens then?
We start to travel down the road of weariness – tiredness and even being burnt out on religion again – and again.
And then guess what Jesus says to us – COME…
HOW ABOUT FOR YOU?
So, what about all of this for you?
What step resonates most with where you are at right now?
And what one practical thing can you do this week to live more fully into this kind of unforced rhythms of grace?