This whole idea of "rest" had been a mystery for me in years gone by.. my thinking about it has gotten a bit less fuzzy in recent years. Recently I said this to a friend in an email message:
I think that when we are living from a simple faith.. believing that God is already in us (if we are spiritually reborn) and already working in us.. we (as it says in Hebrews) cease from our labors and enter into a rest filled faith that is no longer preoccupied by keeping the law.Here is that scripture in the fourth chapter of Hebrews that I was referencing:
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.I have found that I can really rest in faith when I embrace the idea that God is "already" in me and "already" working in me and through me. When I think about this whole idea of resting I think about another scripture in the second chapter of Philippians:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.It is a paradox of sorts because Paul instructs the Philippians to work but then says that it is really God who is doing the work. So what then is the work that Paul speaks of? What is the work that we should do? Another scripture comes to mind when I think about the kind of work we should be doing:
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” [John 6:29]Jesus speaks to this whole idea of works because much of Jewish tradition emphasized the "doing" of the law.. He says that the real work is simple belief and not religious performance.
So.. tying these things together.. I think that when we work the work of faith (i.e. believe in Jesus) we are at rest because our work is all about believing that God is already working. Any actions that we have are simple responses to the voice of God that is already in us working (sometimes this feels like our conscience speaking to us). We do not have to worry about doing stuff.. we only need respond to the God that is already inside of us. It is not that hard if we can simply train ourselves to trust in the Lord that is in our hearts and to not lean on our own understanding.