How do you do it? How do you actually rest and relax in God, do “nothing,” and yet produce a lot for God? Now, I remind you that just because you’re doing a lot of work for God and exhausting yourself in ministry, doesn’t follow that you are doing something useful for Him.
A lot of times you’re not. Many church workers labor for nothing. As long as you do man’s work (not God’s work), you work in vain. And God’s work is simply to believe in Jesus Christ, nothing more nothing less.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” [John 6.28-29]
And believing, says Hebrews 4, is about obedience to God’s voice, which in Hebrews 4 urges us to rest in God.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it…for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works…Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, [Hebrews 4]
First, it’s about resting. Second, it’s about doing nothing. Consider this passage:
Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who DOES NOT WORK but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. [Romans 4.4-5]
This principle is true in salvation and in serving God, since both are by grace through faith. You cannot serve God by your own efforts. If you do, you are given”wages” as an obligation, the same thing employees get from their boss. But if you serve as a faithful son or daughter, you are credited with what God possesses in himself—righteousness.
Some servants prefer wages than inheritance from the Father. So they work hard with their own efforts serving God. But sons relax because they enter their Father’s rest. How?
They do nothing that the Father is not doing.
The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. [John 5.19]
And what do they see the Father doing? Resting. God has been resting since the 7th day of creation.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. [Genesis 2.2]
And again in Hebrews:
“On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” [4.4]
So what should we do? Nothing except rest in God.
Radical, isn’t it? And a lot of church people won’t get it.
Pastors today do a lot of useless works. For instance, they need to have a church property and church building they keep improving on. They need to keep raising funds for that, so they solicit. They need to do lots of follow-ups on people they have shared the Gospel to and do visitations. They need to keep inviting people, even pestering and forcing them to attend their church services.
They also do a lot of gimmicks to entertain people in hopes of making them come back next Sunday—concerts, nice choir, worship team, superb sound systems, exciting programs, etc. Can you imagine how hectic and tiring church anniversaries are and Christmas worship? Some even have Halloween fellowships and Easter Services. Jesus didn’t do any of these, and certainly neither did the Father.
They try to please their members, especially the so-called “givers,” so they won’t transfer to another church. They must see to it that membership increases each year to also increase church income—because membership and income to them determine whether a church is dying or thriving. They do lots more things like these and later end up stressed up, troubled, worried, sickly and pressured over nothing.
Jesus didn’t do any of them in his ministry. Therefore, believers who enjoy God’s Sabbath rest also never do these things—they only do what they see the Father is doing through Jesus Christ.
They share the Gospel with people, leave them to decide for themselves and go on to the next. People go to them for more, as multitudes pursued after Jesus in his days. He never pursued after people. No follow-up or visiting. Jesus invited a few to his ministry once, and only in passing, but he never invited them twice.
The idea is to make people covet God, desiring Him desperately and making them work hard to pursue the experience while you rest in God. People should see how you rest and relax in God—smooth, easy, relaxed and free like the wind, caring about nothing and yet possessing God’s everything—and they should crave to have the same life, too. Yes, they see how you also have problems but what impresses them is the lack of stress and anxiety in your life. And they see Jesus in all that. They doggedly pursue Jesus first of all, then you and the Jesus they see in you.
But the problem today is, people relax while pastors work hard pursuing after them. Pastors covet them and sometimes compromise God just to get their nods. They get sick and die pursuing hard after people. If you do this, you get nothing but wages from God. People who get mere salaries from God usually are sickly and stressed out in ministry. Remember, only employees are given sick leaves, not the sons and daughters of the owner of the company. Tired and overworked people are moody and difficult to deal with and impose strictures on others—because the concept of rest is alien to them.
Remember, your first job is to rest in God by deepening your experience with him. This is done by meditating the Word of God day and night. And then you share the Gospel with people. The results are all up to God. You pursue no one for membership. Don’t beg anyone to join your church. It doesn’t matter if no one responds. It’s not your fault. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to follow up. His job is to convict and convince. In the meantime, live the life and character of Jesus Christ. Be deep in his Word.
Then in his perfect time, God will draw some of them to you. Some God draws to you may become attenders, some supporters and a few may become your disciples, and here you have your second job—to disciple. You don’t have to worry about numbers. As you rest in God and obey his voice, God decides how many believers you’d have in the church He has entrusted to your care.
Often, God draws people to another church ministry, not the one he’s entrusted to you. That’s okay.
Church size and membership number mean nothing in God’s Kingdom. What matters is that you raise up those God gives you to be like Jesus Christ, have his spiritual DNA.