Are You Finding Rest for Your Soul? If Not, You Aren’t Hearing Christ
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
As most all of you know, the reports we receive from oppressed victims of abusers is not this: “I went to my church for help and they were incredible. They helped me get free from this bondage of abuse.” Sometimes, every once in a while, we do get such a report and the Lord certainly blesses a church like that. But the norm is quite the opposite. The yoke put upon victims is anything but easy and light. Gentleness and humility are not the typical qualities victims find in their churches.
This is not Jesus Christ.
All through Scripture from Genesis to Revelation we have accounts of false shepherds who lay heavy burdens on the Lord’s people. We are warned against them and instructed not to yield to them for a moment. For example:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. (Matthew 23:1-4)
And of course many of the New Testament Epistles such as 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 2 Peter, Jude and others were written because false teachers with a false gospel were coming in among the churches and putting the people back into bondage to some kind of works righteousness. They did not represent Jesus Christ.
Many of us have grown up in the church. And sadly, many of us have been weaned on man’s traditions parading as the Word of God. Inevitably those traditions are either rank libertinism (sin all you want because we are under grace) or just as commonly, legalism. It takes Christians raised in such settings a long time to get out from under the load of such a yoke, and many abuse victims have remained in bondage to abuse for many years because they had this yoke of false, man-made teachings laid upon them all their lives.
How can we sort it all out? Well, Christ’s words above are a huge help. The fact is, if the Christianity that you embrace is not giving “rest to your soul,” then something is wrong. “No, you cannot divorce your abuser! God does not permit it. Go home and try harder and pray for your husband.” I submit to you that this is not Jesus Christ. Christ’s words to His people are green pastures and still waters. He leads us into peaceful places where we can rest. Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd restores our souls. Is your soul being restored and are you finding rest in the words you are hearing preached to you? If so, that is wonderful. But if not, they are not the words of our Lord.
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:1-6)