Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Gift of Burden Bearing

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 ESV)

Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]. (Galatians 6:2 AMP)

What does it mean to bear a burden? 

We often consider burden bearing to be a burden in itself, when it is actually a way to experience true life by sharing our experiences. Burden bearing does NOT mean to tolerate sin, nor does it mean that we somehow absorb the burdens of others into our own. The last thing that a person needs is the throbbing weight of many burdens upon his shoulders.

The key to unlocking this spiritual principle lies in the second part of this verse. "Fulfill the law of Christ."

What then is the law of Christ?

While there are many deep explanations and commentaries on this phrase, I would like to propose a far simpler and more overarching definition.


The law of Christ is love.

This is what 1 Corinthians 13 so eloquently explains. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)
So what if I can speak in tongues, if I have faith to move mountains? Does it really matter if my ability to love is gone? If I have not experienced the αγαρη love of Jesus then it really doesn't matter what credentials I have to my name.

My ministry is worthless. 
My relationships are worthless.
My identity is worthless.

Only love can inject meaning into these aspects of life. Only this kind of selfless love can enable us to bear one another's burdens. Only αγαρη love can enable us to see beyond our own needs, our own wants, and into the hearts of those around us.

When we bear our brother's burden, we feel the weight of neither my own burden or his. Why? In a beautiful and deeply spiritual sense, when our eyes are focused outside of ourselves, then we are able to fully devote our whole attention on loving others... And when we spend our entire self loving others, then the power to do so no longer stems from my own ability, but rather the very spirit of Jesus that dwells within.

When I bear my brother's burden, Jesus himself is sharing the experience through me.
When my brother bears my burden, Jesus himself is ministering to me.

Suddenly, what was once a friendship has become a spiritual conduit for the Holy Spirit to enter into our lives in a real, tangible way.

Why would we not want to invite the person of Jesus into the deepest part of our being, the darkest corners of our lives? Why wouldn't we want to extend the hand of Christ to our neighbor, to our brother?

The beauty of this to me is that relationships are in the deepest sense a little picture of a restored relationship with God. As I wrote in my previous post, God is in his deepest form a relationship. By being made in His image, and being found in Christ, then suddenly I am entering into a sacred relationship by bearing my brother's burden. 

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17 NLT)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sharing Life

I should be writing a funeral sermon right now.
Yet that sounds like death (pardon the lame joke).

I am too hyped up on my own thoughts about life, community, relationships, and God.
Every day that passes by I find myself cherishing my friends and family more and more, desiring to share the minute moments of my life with someone else. It is not enough to merely live life, but to share it with those around us. I am convinced that this mysterious connection between community, life, and faith is a biblical principle. After all, I would hate to be devoting so much time investing in other people if that was in fact not what I was meant to be doing with my life.

For me the principle is this:
God in his nature is relational, therefore, being created in His image, I also am relational. 

I know this seems simple, but think about it more deeply for a moment.
At the core of who God is, is a relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. COMMUNITY is as connected to His very nature as LOVE.
Before God created anything, he was in relationship with the other members of the Godhead, and by creating mankind, He thus wired us to desire and need this very thing.

So when I desire to share life with those I love the most, I am expressing a deep part of my being that understands who I am in Christ, and who I am meant to be by nature.

When Jesus said in John 10:10 that "I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly," He was indicating that that life was going to come only by a relationship with him.
True, Abundant, LIFE is impossible apart from Christ, but it is also impossible apart from a relationship. Yes, this is referring to a relationship with Jesus Christ, but my mind has been overwhelmed recently by a new understanding of HOW this is experienced and expressed on earth, as we wait for our God to restore all things to Himself.

Are you ready for it?

We experience Jesus today by those who are our brothers and sisters. Those in the church are not merely "other Christians." How dare we refer to these people as such!
No, because of the Holy Spirit, we experience the very presence of Jesus himself when we gather with those who know Him.
Mutually edified, our family in Christ is meant to not only encourage us and spur us along, but it is the means by which we physically experience Jesus on this earth (until we are reunited with Him).

When I share life with those closest to me, the Holy Spirit is working! He is growing us closer together to Himself as we grow closer to each other. Paul seems to have fully understood this concept, as he was constantly referring to how he "longed to be with" the churches, so that they might mutually edify one another.

When Paul urges us to speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and to spur one another on to love and good works; it is because he understands that Christ Himself is doing the work.
He understands how deep the truth is that those who know Jesus are literally "hidden in Christ."

So when you are speaking truth to a brother, praying for your family, texting your best friend, sharing moments with those closest to you; there is a deeper spiritual side to these life moments.

This is why the statement is true that you "can't live the Christian life alone." Not only is it difficult, it is devoid of "life" to begin with!

1 Corinthians 12:13 
"For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free- and all were made to drink of one Spirit."