Jesus’ call, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), is a call to a life of boundaries set by the love and grace of God.
In the swift stream of our times, the need for rest and peace are acute and in desperate need of the love and grace of God.
Embracing the love and grace of God sets a still point within the soul. It creates and re-creates within us a new way of seeing what is going on in the world around us.
It gives us the strength to see ourselves and to see others through the lens of what God is like.
The love and grace of God points to the cross and says, “This is what God is like; this is how much God loves and how God loves. Until you figure that out, your life is going to be touched by fury, wilderness, turbulence and even a certain kind of certainty, perhaps, but this is not God’s kind of peace, which brings wholeness of body-mind-soul-personhood-in-community with God and others.”
The love and grace of God does not call on people to hate but to love.
The love and grace of God calls on people to do the sometimes very hard work of trying to understand one another, to listen to one another, to know that sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong, but more important, that “the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
The love and grace of God does not shout epithets or call for violence against others. The love and grace of God does not believe, “for God so loved ‘some’ of the world – mostly the same people I love and who look like me” – but, “for God so loved the world” (John 3:16).
The love and grace of God offers a way forward beyond the dysfunctions of our personalities and the selfishness, greed and narcissism of our culture – a culture whose ways lead to oppression, depression, addiction and isolation.
The love and grace of God calls for humility, gentleness, kindness – the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) – and the transformation of instruments of war into the instruments of peace (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).
It calls also for accepting the truth that some of the fiercest instruments of war are the words we say to one another, the thoughts we think about one another that diminish the gift from God that each one of us is to one another, and the terrible thoughts we think about ourselves alone in the darkness.
The love and grace of God do not mean we are doormats to abuse, but they do mean we seek, “as far as it depends on us,” to live in peace with others and ourselves (Romans 12:18).
The love and grace of God are radical and inclusive. They call on all people of good will to live ethically toward one another, to want the best for one another and not just be out to get all we can for ourselves.
The love and grace of God look like weakness to many in this world, but it is the only way to rest and peace and security that lasts (1 Corinthians 1:25).
The love and grace of God, applied in this world, can cause you a lot of trouble because this world cries, “Peace, peace,” and promises that which is not peace (Jeremiah 6:14).
The world pushes back, sometimes with deadly force, on the advance of God’s kingdom of grace and mercy and love, but once you have experienced a taste of that kingdom, nothing else will come close to satisfying your soul.
It is in your soul, deep down, that you know what you want is rest and lightness of being and peace that lasts forever and gives you life and makes you at home with yourself and others and God.
It saves you from your worst intentions as well as from the powers of this world. It makes your heart sing. It satisfies your soul. It opens the doorway to heaven on earth and fills your life with the gladness of God.
Pastor of Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia.