BY SCOTT DAVIS
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30
Have you ever played hide and seek with a 2-year-old? News flash: They’re terrible at it. They either try to hide behind something that doesn’t even make sense, like a skinny tree; or, they go back to the same hiding place over, and over, and over again. We’re not unlike that with our attempts to hide our sins. But, the difference between us and a sovereign God is much greater than the difference between us and a toddler.
When Adam and Eve sinned they sought to hide their sins with fig leaves and ever since then we, their offspring, have been trying to try to figure out what we too can do to camouflage our sins. But, the truth is hiding our sins is exhausting.
When we don’t trust in Christ’s gracious work on our behalf, we can never rest. We can never know that we've done enough good to measure up. We will constantly strive, ceaselessly labor, toil without end, continually hide our bad deeds and always fret that they’ll be found out. We will be weary.
Last year a convicted murderer named Timothy Buffington escaped from an Arkansas prison. After his escape and just prior to his capture he’d been the object of a three month long statewide manhunt. His picture was constantly being plastered all over the television, internet and wanted posters around the state. His capture and re-arrest went like this. An Arkansas State Trooper spotted a man wearing camouflage in front of a home. He approached him, asked him if he was Timothy Buffington. Buffington replied, “yes.” He was taken back into custody without a fight. Why? He was no doubt weary. He had no rest. He had to be constantly worried that he’d be discovered, found out.
What Buffington thought would be freedom turned out to be more laborious than captivity. After 3 months of that “freedom”, he was ready to trade in his camouflage clothes for a bright orange jumpsuit.
Your sins and mine are relatively easy to camouflage from the watching world. But to the maker of the universe we’re not concealing anything. He sees through our attempts to justify ourselves as clearly as if we’re already wearing the bright orange jumpsuit. And God knows that it is wearying. He knows that that supposed freedom we’re trying to attain is a captivity that is crushing you. This is why Paul calls it a “slavery to sin”. Come to Christ. Not with a disguise. But, with the only thing that is genuinely yours- your sins. He’s offering not a different kind of captivity. Not better camouflage, But a royal robe. His righteousness.
Rest from your labors in the one who has labored on your behalf. Christ calls us not to more labor, not to more running. But to rest. He knows that without Him your soul is restless. And, your burden is heavy and burdensome.
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” -Saint Augustine
Bruce Hillman is Lead Pastor at Hillside Lutheran Brethren Church (www.hillsidelbc.org) in Succasunna New Jersey. He Holds a BA in History and Political Science from Quinnipiac University, (Hamden, CT), an MDiv. from the Lutheran Brethren Seminary (Fergus Falls, MN) and an STM in Patristics from Drew University (Madison, NJ); his research involves Augustinian studies and Early Christianity. He is former pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Henning MN. He is co-founder of Fifth Act Church Planting, having served on their board (www.fifthactchurchplanting.com) Bruce enjoys cooking, reading, all things British, exploring the world of wine, and conversations with good friends.