How do We “Strive” to Enter God’s Rest?
By James Chen
A couple of verses caught my attention during our recent study of the book of Hebrews.
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Hebrews 4:1-2)
The author is warning us that despite having heard the good news, we can still fall short of entering God’s rest if we do not believe this good news we received. But we are not left without hope. The antidote is to not allow this unbelief to fester, and to “strive” to enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:11a).
But first of all, why should we believe?
In the first three chapters of Hebrews, the author sets up the reason for our belief. He proclaims the glory, worth and supremacy of Jesus. Jesus is God’s Son, the Creator and Sustainer of the world, the ruling King of the universe. Yet Jesus, in grace and mercy, became lowly man, to die and pay the price for the sins of His people. In doing so, He defeated death, and counts us as his brothers!
This message of Jesus is too important to ignore, and the author asks us to listen to Jesus (1:2), and to pay close attention to what we have heard (2:1), and not to harden our hearts (3:15). The Creator, Sustainer, King of the universe, speaks to us today.
So how do we cultivate this belief?
But what does hearing about what Jesus says got to do with unbelief? Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ” The antidote to unbelief is to listen to Jesus, by giving attention to His Word—the Bible.
Over the past few weeks in Bible Class, we discussed practical steps to increase our intake of God’s Word. Many of us lead busy lives at work and at home. When the workday ends, the temptation to “switch off and relax” is ever present. We are lax about hearing God’s Word.
But the word “strive” shows us that this requires great effort. There is no easy way out, but to be disciplined in making time to read, listen, and meditate on God’s Word every day. I have found it easier to listen to the Bible audiobook on my daily commute to and fro from work, focusing on a couple of chapters for the entire week. Others may find dedicating a specific block of time to work for them. We are all wired differently with varied daily schedules, so we need to be creative and intentional in finding what works for us.
We are not alone in this journey
We are not meant to walk alone in our journey of faith. We need one another as a family of God’s children. The author of Hebrews uses the nouns “we” and “us” indicating a group effort in this journey. Hebrews 4:11 says, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” To live up to this high calling, we must be accountable to one another in a loving manner, encouraging one another, so that we may enter God’s rest. We can take heart that we are not in this journey alone, but in a family of God’s children, with Jesus Christ our faithful and merciful high priest.