Jesus said: Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
These precious words of the Lord Jesus lie at the heart of Christian hope and experience. They lie at the heart of the Call to the Way.
Two things, perhaps more than all others, play a part in this Call. One is our need. The other is God's love. Behind it all is God's sovereign will.
A sense of need is, of course, familiar to us as the driving force that brings people to seek medical advice and care. They have a need of body or mind which it is the doctor's role to try to meet. But the help that God gives to those who come to him in repentance and faith is infinitely deeper and more significant and more effective than anything that even the best human physician can give to a patient. He gives forgiveness for sin, peace to the guilt-ridden soul, rest for the weary and restless, hope for now and eternity. He opens up the Way to the bewildered and the lost.
God's love, love to the uttermost, is revealed in Christ. It was seen supremely and poignantly on the Cross. That amazing act of love has broken the rebellious hearts of multitudes, turning fear into adoration, mistrust into love, and disobedience into allegiance. And we know his love continuingly and constantly in his daily presence and care for those who trust him.
Christ calls us to the Way by our need and by his love. We still hear his words: 'All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out' (Jn 6:37). We enter on the Way when we acknowledge him with kind and heart and will as personal Saviour, Lord and God. Our need and his love keep us in the Way. Ultimately his love is the one supreme and abiding factor.
John has written: 'Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another ... We love, because he first loved us' (1 Jn 4:11,19). It might be a salutary exercise for us to consider what is in the minds of those who come to us for help. Their need is real. How far can they count on being met with love?
O Saviour, I have nought to plead,
In earth beneath or heaven above,
But just my own exceeding need,
And thy exceeding love.
The need will soon be past and gone,
Exceeding great but quickly o'er;
The love unbought is all thine own,
And lasts for evermore.
Further reading: Mt 11:25-30. Jn 6:35-40. 1 Jn 4:7-21.