unforced rhythms of grace

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with mewatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

I’ve had this phrase from the above passage swirling round my head these last few days “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

The unforced rhythms of grace are the opposite to religion. Religion is about rules, regulations, going to meetings, and external behaviour. My kids have a great version of the bible called The Storybook Bible which I couldn’t recommend highly enough. I love the way it describes the Pharisees…

“In those days there were some Extra-Super-Holy People (at least that’s what they thought), and they were called “Pharisees.” Every day they would stand out there in the middle of the street and pray out loud in big Extra-Super-Holy-Voices. They weren’t really praying so much as just showing off. They used lots of special words that were so clever no one understood what they meant.

People walking by would stop and stare, which might sound rude- except that’s exactly what the Extra-Super-Holy People wanted. They wanted everyone to say, “Look at them. They’re so holy. God must love those people the best.”

It always makes me laugh when I read it because the Pharisees are so ridiculously religious and then usually as I’m chuckling I realise I’m not so different from these guys.You know, it’s not that difficult to slip into religion. Our versions of “religion” might not be as obvious as the Pharisees but they can creep in without us realising.

Maybe you  have a purer heart than me but have you ever hoped that someone might notice you being generous to someone or have you ever prayed in a way hoping that people around you might think that you are super-duper holy? Why do we do that? I think it’s because we think, as the Storybook Bible says, that  “God must love those people the best”. We are fooled into thinking that God is impressed by our religious show.

But  when we learn the unforced rhythms of grace mentioned in Matthew 11 life is very different. Jesus tells us how to live this grace-filled life:

  • Come to me. Get away with me.

There’s an initial call to go to Jesus – to move towards him and retreat away with him in order to be forgiven and restored. In this place we truly understand who we are – our identity given and defined by Jesus.

  • Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it

Then there is invitation to walk and work with Jesus, to let him apprentice us and to show us how to walk everyday life as we watch how he does it and participate in who, what and where he calls us to.

  • Keep company with me

And then an invitation to keep company, to remain intimate with him in all that we are and all that we do.

When we choose to fellowship with Jesus this way –  as we retreat, walk and work with Him – there is life, rest, freedom and light-ness…the unforced rhythms of grace.

posted by Anna

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2 thoughts on “unforced rhythms of grace

  1. “have you ever prayed in a way hoping that people around you might think that you are super-duper holy? Why do we do that? I think it’s because we … are fooled into thinking that God is impressed by our religious show.” – interesting. I expect some people are, I expect there are those who think God will think better of them if they pray longer/fancier prayers, that sort of thing. But I think there’s another reason why we do these things: we care too much about what other people think of us, we yearn for praise from fellow human beings. and the antidote for that also lies in the same thing you talk about: spending time with God, so that we absorb more of how he sees us, we get our sense of self-worth from him so we won’t need other people to praise us.


  2. totally agree, the root cause of either trying to impress God or man is the same – not having a secure God-given identity which can only be found in walking with him. Thanks, anna


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