“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
I was once with a woman at a dinner table who was carrying on 5 conversations at once. I thought to myself how different from how I was raised. We were taught to wait our turn to be heard. But as I observed her bouncing from one person to another, it occurred to me that I was seeing this sort of thing happening more frequently in life with so many things. It was a ubiquitous thing, encompassing both the way we did business transactions and the way we were raising our children – who then grew up to expect the same from others. Waiting on one another or even for things in general was becoming more uncommon. It wasn’t that people didn’t still have to wait but that the perception was becoming that they shouldn’t have to. And the pressure to perform like a machine with rapidity, to look and be the same desired ideal, day after day, minute by minute has become more and more demanded in our society. Unlike Jesus, we are not always gentle and we are not always humble. We read about it in our various media and the phrases of “he really has it together” or “she knows how to get it done” are part of that culture. As a result people are constantly under pressure to please everyone while rarely pleasing God. Society has made it feel more like a sin to “fail” at meeting this ideal of performance rather than to fail at what God calls sin (betrayal, adultery, perversions and the like) and a failing at His definition of perfection: .love, fidelity, loyalty, justice, etc. The world and its demand for perfection in performance can be summed up by a modern day poet, Alanis Morrisette: “We’ll love you just the way you are….as long as you’re perfect.” Conversely, God says he loved us first, just as we were, and then loved us enough to help us grow to be like Himself: “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 and “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
If you are feeling this pressure to perform perfectly and aware of its growing, it is because of the increasing demands we make of each other based on our definition of perfection rather than God’s definition of perfection. God does not demand this of you and I. The only thing you and I have to measure up to is His perfection. It’s not demanding but it is just and loving to the giver as well as the receiver. It brings peace to the soul, not more pressure. It is not the kind of activity, though it takes strong effort, that will make you weary. It refreshes you.
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul. – Psalm 23:1-3
Do you see now why God calls His “load” light?