I love how the Bible is so connected to itself. How themes & thoughts from the Old Testament are reflected, repeated, and taught in the New Testament.
I was reading today in worship, going through some Psalms to bring the Lord praise, and then followed that up by reading through Hebrews 3 & 4 where it talks about us as believers entering God’s rest.
Workism and Rest
At the Stone Table, we talk (write) a lot about workism. We’ve spoken a lot about how dysfunctional this practice is, as it is a misdirection of our worship. We also talk a lot about rest, which quite often requires discipline for us to practice.
Rest is a gift from God; a sense of calm on the inside and a sense of peace than can permeate all aspects of our lives… If we allow it to do so. I want to connect this gift of rest with the gift of peace, both of which we have been given as believers & followers of Jesus Christ.
In Psalm 95, God speaks on leading the Israelites to the promised land through the wilderness. His goal was to get them there safely, allowing them to enter His rest – His peace & provision in the land of Canaan. However, as we know, it did not work out exactly the way He intended.
Because of the Israelites’ disobedience, the LORD speaks of delivering wrath to an entire generation of them in the wilderness – those who forsook His direction and went after their own gods and their own ways.
One way we do this today is through workism.
In workism, we forsake the direction of God for the direction of our own will & desires. Workism leads us down a 40-year (+) trail of our own making, which, just like the Israelites, will leave us circling in the desert for an entire generation, missing the promises of God.
Workism, just like foreign gods and self-steeled desires, can lead us astray from what God has intended for our lives. We can often find ourselves striving for more success, more money, and more prestige, only to find ourselves burnt out, thirsty, and without peace – just like the Israelites.
Workism is not a new concept, simply a new name. Just like those wandering in the desert, hardening their hearts against God’s provision & plans, we do the same today when we choose to depend on something other than God’s mercy & grace for our everyday needs. And this becomes an idolatry, which is exactly what workism is – an idolization of our work and our ability to produce.
However, what God truly intended for us, and for the Israelites, was rest. I’ve also written before on how consistent & intentional rest can be a cure for workism.
Rest was part of God’s order in creation, and it was also part of His order for mankind. Rest was not meant to be a break-down from burnout, but it was meant to be a pause to worship God, restore your body & soul, and be filled for another week of productive, healthy work ahead. It was meant to be a refreshment.
Today, we often find ourselves hardening our hearts against the necessity & command to rest as found in Scripture. Why do we harden our hearts against this? Simply because it does not fit the cultural norms? “I’m sure God understands that I cannot rest now, there is way too much for me to get done. I’m sure I can rest another time.”
We are just as guilty today of following our own paths in the desert as the Israelites were in the Old Testament. We just like to make it look flashier.
Striving to Rest
The interesting thing in Hebrews 3 & 4 is that it presents God’s rest as twofold: one, a current & present reality of God’s peace in our lives, and two, a future in God’s eternal kingdom where there is permanent, unchanging peace & serenity forever. One way we can access this present peace is through rest – literal rest.
In his book “The Peacemaker”, Ken Sande talks about how God’s peace is a threefold promise to access. His peace is first peace with God, second peace with others, and third peace within ourselves. These are all facets of God’s promised peace.
As I was journaling in my devotional study time today, I realized that we are (1) given the truth about being at peace with God, (2) given the command to seek & pursue peace with others, and (3) able to therefore receive the peace within ourselves. This peace is a sense of rest, something that God intends for us to experience in this life, as written about in Hebrews 4.
The Bible records,
“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11).
This is referring to the eternal rest of God in salvation but citing the reference to God’s planned rest for the Israelites in the promised land of the Old Testament. It’s interesting to me how we are actually working in order to rest. This is the opposite of what workism promotes today.
Modern day workism culture would state that “rest is for the weak” or that we really see no need for intentional rest, but the Bible says otherwise. Really, work is meant to lead into rest.
As the Lord established the Sabbath to rest, we ought to follow His command. I think God knew we couldn’t work from an unrested place. He knew we would make poor decisions when we’re tired, when we’re up late all the time, and when we have no peace within our soul. Rest is vital.
Workism may drive us to the brink of collapse, but rest keeps us in touch with the healing power of God’s peace. Workism may exhort a striving for success, recognition, and more work, but the Bible exhorts us to strive to enter God’s rest.
Closing the Book
I want us to recognize that workism is the rhythm we enter when we choose to neglect rest and pursue more work. It is the pattern we establish when we continually deny the Sabbath creation and choose to go our own way, wandering for an additional 40 years down a path of striving that God never intended for us.
The rhythm of workism is best interrupted by following the Biblical call to rest. Rather than striving for achievement, we are called to pursue rest; to live lives of steady heartbeats, intertwined with God’s design for our function. He knows what we need, and He created rest for our own good.
Without rest, we cannot function. We cannot last. But God desires for us to live long, healthy lives! And to do that, we must practice rest.
Workism may feel like the easier call sometimes; it’s often easier to keep working than it is to force yourself to pause & rest; but I assure you, the results are far less beautiful than they seem.
Let the rest of God be what we strive after today. Let the pursuit of His peace through rest replace any sense of workism in your life. I assure you; the results of rest are far more beautiful than they seem.