Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
— Matthew 11:28
It is safe to say that there is confusion about what is needed for life and what is really important for life. The vast majority of American stores seem to be selling wants not needs. What we now call needs were formerly wants, and they have moved to such a level of sophistication that now luxuries are “necessities” for many of us. The upwardly mobile in our culture cannot feel good about themselves unless the vacation next year is more luxurious than last year’s, unless the clothes and the house are upgraded, unless the latest gadget is acquired. This keeps us all quite trapped and un-free, and inherently unsatisfied. We are running on a perpetual hamster’s wheel.
Meanwhile, most of God’s people on this earth starve; most of God’s people have to learn to find happiness and learn to find freedom at a much simpler level. What the Gospel is saying, of course, is that such simplicity is the only place that happiness is ever to be found in the first place. We have moved to a level where we have made happiness and contentment largely impossible. We have created a pseudo-happiness, largely based in having instead of being. We are so overstimulated that the ordinary no longer delights us. We cannot rest or abide in our naked being in God, as Jesus offers us.
Such a message is about as traditional, old-fashioned and conservative a gospel as we can possibly preach, and it will always be true. Every generation needs to hear it and believe this anew, but particularly in our time and culture when even middle-class people have more comforts and securities than did kings and queens in the times when royalty flourished.
We have become human doings more than human beings, and the verb “rest,” as Jesus uses it, is largely foreign to us. Indeed, such rest feels like “nothing” at all, which makes it very hard to sell to people who do not value rest.
What in your life, material or not, are you using to fulfill a need that really should be sought from elsewhere?