“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
You can find a poem inspired by these words inside the Statue of Liberty in New York City near the shores of Ellis Island. It’s a reminder to all those who came to Ellis Island that the United States was a land of opportunity, a land of misfits, a melting pot of people from all over the world. These words by Emma Lazarus served to give hope and inspiration to people who previously may have had none.
Jesus gave this call thousands of years before, as He taught about what it means to have a relationship with God. These are not words suggesting life in Jesus is easy. Just ask the families who recently saw tornadoes destroy their homes and neighborhoods for the second time this year. Instead Jesus is offering freedom from something else, the Law. Not laws that your local government lays out to keep order, but freedom from the Law, big L that represented the set of rules to govern life enforced by the religious leaders.
People believed that they needed to earn goodness, earn good standing in the eyes of God, and earn their way to heaven. They legalistically monitored hundreds of dos and don’ts that gave you a kind of goodness quotient. The higher the score the more holy you were. Your goal: don’t fail. Jesus instead says I am here to free you from that game. I am not interested in a holy score card, I already know you are a broken, sinful person and there is nothing you can do that would be impressive or good enough to wow God and get you into heaven. I am interested in a relationship. Come to me, and find forgiveness, grace, and love. Come to me and be freed from the game. Come to me and find a relationship that will transform your life. Give up the holiness game, stop trying to keep score, and start building a relationship. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light…”