“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.” – Matthew 11:27-30
As a natural observer, I have always enjoyed standing to the side and taking things in. It often takes time for events to unfold, and being an observer has taught me the value of the long view. Because of that I try to withhold judgement and learn as much as I can before wading in.
But we live in a culture now where everything has to be reacted to, judged, tweeted, and run through the talk-show mill before the event in question has even concluded!
Consequently, there is very little analysis that is not tainted with emotional reaction, misunderstanding, pre-conclusive ideology, prejudicial slant, peremptory judgment, and the fear that it will soon be too late to comment, that the next distraction will come along and nobody will care anymore.
I thought about all this while observing my friend the hawk sit on the fence for a good hour or so the other day, simply biding his time and taking it all in. We have a family of hawks who sojourn in the woods behind our house around the same time every year. They stay a couple of months, help thin out the pesky squirrel population, then move on.
Hawks are all about the big picture. They take off, they head several hundred feet into the sky, then they watch carefully, getting a sense of all the details and all the information before they make their move.
It’s easy to think of God in the same way. God takes in all of human history: the struggles to get things right; the failures; the wars; the beautiful moments when we actually live in love; the misunderstandings; the horrible abuses; the yearnings of reaching toward God; the choking religious codes; the fear of diversity; the progress we often make; the times we fall on our faces. God takes it all in.
Then God offers us another way. God sends his son into the boiling cauldron of human experience, and announces an alternative to the awkward hodgepodge of doctrine and judgment and legalism and shame: “Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases the passage (above). “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you…”
You can’t get there outside of the long view. God’s view is the view that erases all of the petty, ill-fitting, bigoted, legalistic, reactive, “I know better than God”, hypercritical narrowness of what I like to call, Lightly Christianized religiosity.
Yet we persist in spiting out all the tired, worn out, divisive, segregationist, exclusionary, narrow views, soiling our social media feed with the hate.
And Jesus continues to offer a grace-saturated alternative, because he is tired of failed religion. Listen, Twitter, Facebook, and other social-media feeds – I’m tired of it too – DEREK