Galatians 6:2-3 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
I was mowing the yard and I was thinking how things have changed over the years to make lawn mowing easier and easier. Back in the day, we would let the livestock eat it, then the push sickle, the push behind, the self-propelled, to riders, then zero turns, and now robot mowers. We are doing everything we can to take the work, and hardship out of it. We are trying to do the same thing to our Christian walk, trying to take the uncomfortable things and ease them or eliminate them all together so that the load is lighter. We must be careful that we don’t diminish the loads and hard work so much that we diminish our effectiveness as the church in our context.
One of those is Burden carrying. I believe that many churches have done all they can to alleviate or eliminate as much burden as they can from their lives, so much so that they have misplaced their responsibility as the church. Many churches have forgotten the whole purpose that the church existed in the first place. Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, told us to pick up our crosses (burdens) and to follow Him (Luke 9:23). Jesus was a burden carrier and so should we as the church.
Carrying a burden does not mean it is up to us to alleviate suffering. 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. As the church we need to not try to takeaway all the troubles and loads of ours or anyone else, but to help carry for the season. Walking along with others through their seasons is the picture of Simon of Cyrene walking with Jesus to Calvary carrying the cross. What greater thing that a church can do than walking along side people in and around your church that you can walk with and show Christ to them.
Carrying another’s burden does not mean to take away their pain. Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. “I will be with you” is the promise of presence. Being there regardless of come what may is the Spirit of Christ that the church is to exhibit to ones that are hurting and broken all around us. The pain is there and it hurts but the church should say “I’m here with you.”
Carrying the burden simply means to hold them up and point them to Christ. To help carry burdens means that we are help people cross the finish line and reach the goal that Paul talked about. It is helping a fellow runner that has stumbled or fallen to get up and continue, throwing their weight over your shoulders and crossing the line. Along the way encouraging them telling them “You can do it”, “Just a little further.” In scripture we are told 15 times to “love one another” or to “love each other.” This is important to walk and help each other carrying burdens as a church.
What about praying for a burden? Have you ever heard of anyone praying for a burden to endure for someone else, I am not talking about carrying a burden with someone but for someone? There are times that we need to pray in a way that we ask God to lay a burden, a load of on us for the benefit of another and not for us. There use to be a time in the church that people would pray that God give them a burden or load for someone or something. People asking for heaviness on them so to see a result for someone else. It is not uncommon to hear of a mother or grandmother praying with conviction and burden for a wayward child or spouse. Praying with such intensity and sincerity that God would move in that loved ones life. Now that is burden carrying.
When the Holy Spirit gives you a burden, He also gives you the responsibility to hold it and carry it along. It would do well for churches that are plateauing and declining to pray for burden for their church family and community. When the churches ears have gone dull and no longer hear God speak, the attention starts to turn inward and to what is more comfortable. You must listen closely to the voice of God and give attention to those peculiar feelings of compassion He gives you for certain individuals.
Give special attention to those burdens that seem more urgent, and pray with a holy determination to see God’s answer. If you feel that you don’t have the strength in yourself to pray as God would want you to, add fasting to your prayers; also add solitude. Perhaps you need to carry that burden of prayer all night long.
Nothing will start a fire of revitalization in a church faster than carrying burdens for each other and the community around you. Genuine care and love for one another in presence and labor. We may own the nicest riding lawn mower in town, but sometimes we need to get the push mower out and get some much needed exercise which is of much more beneficial.
Will you be a burden bearer? “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Pastor Rob Beckett of Shepherdsville First Church of the Nazarene.
“Restoring the “Image of God” to the broken and hurting”