Pastoral Letter August 2012

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

– Matthew 11.28

 

Dear Friends,

The summer has belatedly arrived, and the nation’s thoughts turn to the ‘great escape’. Soon, my family will be headed down the M5, hoping to have an enjoyable break. But why do we holiday? The essential reason is for ‘rest’.

All human beings need to rest, whether daily as we go to sleep, weekly as we take time away from work and study for worship and family time, or more infrequently when we ‘get away’ from our regular surroundings. Rest is very important, and the Lord God modeled this for all of us when he ‘rested’ on the seventh day at the beginning of the world. However different believers interpret the fourth commandment, (about the Sabbath day), all agree that the principle of Sabbath – or, literally, ‘rest’, is very important.

I was once given a piece of advice about over-work. A friend said ‘If you don’t Sabbath, the Lord will Sabbath you!’. He meant (in a light-hearted way) that we should take due care to give our bodies the rest that they need, or the Lord would force us out of our hectic routine and make us rest. We should not ignore rest. It is not unspiritual to be tired, or to need refreshment. We should not be ashamed of taking a holiday – but we should not live our whole life as though it is a holiday. This world is not our eternal home – we’re just passing through.

Hard work often makes rest sweeter. We might have employment or study to pour our effort into and that is excellent if we do it ‘as unto the Lord’. But what do we do with our leisure hours in general? Is any time (apart from an hour on Sundays) to be given to our God who has given us eternal rest in Christ Jesus?

I trust that everyone reading this has come to Christ for rest, and trusted in Him for eternal life – if not, then that is your first priority. But if you head into this holiday season as a follower of the Lord Jesus, then pause as you relax to evaluate your life. Are you truly living to the glory of God as you work and rest?

Yours, in Jesus Christ

Jonathan Hunt

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