Pastoral Newsletter (November 2020)
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it,
and those who formerly received the good news
failed to enter because of disobedience,
again he appoints a certain day, “Today,”
saying through David so long afterward,
in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
While many will be like the Israelites in the Wilderness, not entering God’s rest, God gives constant call outs for everyone to repent. Through repentance of disobedience, everyone will receive God’s grace and mercy, which lead to His rest. The biggest problem is typically attitude. Hardening of hearts toward God. There is also the problem of hardening hearts against people who refuse to listen.
We don’t like it when people don’t listen to us. Whether it’s simple distraction or utter contempt, it still hurts our feelings for people not to listen to us. We begin to harden our hearts at the first sign of rejection. That’s our sinful nature at work. By nature, we want to be the center of the universe for everyone. Our needs need to be front and foremost on everyone else’s mind. After all, God created them to serve us, right?
Unfortunately, that’s the take many people have for their neighbors. It is the ultimate idolatry of self. That is our biggest problem as human beings. We take Satan’s original temptation and remove one pesky, little word. Satan told our first parents, “You will be like God.” We take out that all-important word of comparison: “You will be God.” We like to cling to that idea. That we are the captain of our own destiny.
But being God is very restless. Captaining our own destiny is tiresome. There is no rest as we must always look to see if someone else is trying to wreck our ship. To make sure that no one gets in our way. There is no rest in this type of life.
God invites you into a life filled with rest. Rest that cannot be found in this world. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). Also, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). God is constantly giving this invitation.
But what does the Epistle to the Hebrews say? It focuses on the word “Today.” We aren’t to look at God’s gracious promises as something always there, even though they are. We shouldn’t put off these great things because they will be there “Tomorrow.” We aren’t promised “Tomorrow.” We are only given “Today.” Putting off God’s promises until “Tomorrow” is another form of hardening your heart. Therefore St. James encourages you (4:14-15):
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
All we can do in this world and life is live for Christ “Today.” We cannot and should not put off anything for “Tomorrow.” Live for “Today” and you will find God’s rest in your life.