Friday, June 2, 2017

Bearing Burdens in the Context of Community

The Apostle Paul instructs the believers in the churches in Galatia to bear one another’s burdens, and tells them that when they bear one another’s burdens they will fulfill of law of Christ (Gal 6:2).  The instruction is clear: Bear burdens. But what is the law of Christ, the law that we fulfill in burden bearing?  The law of Christ includes the law of love, and the law of love says that believers are to love their neighbors as themselves (Gal 5:14). Followers of Jesus are repeatedly instructed in the New Testament to love one another (John 13:34, 15:12; Rom 12:10; 1 Thess 4:9; 1 Pet 1:22, 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 2 John 5). Therefore, we can conclude that bearing one another’s burdens is a practical outworking of the love that believers have for one another. Burden bearing is to be a mark of the Christian.

How are we to do this? How do believers bear one another’s burdens? First, we recognize that the command to bear burdens is broad, encompassing numerous scenarios and situations. People find themselves under a barrage of burdens that they need help in bearing. We have physical burdens, emotional burdens, financial burdens, and spiritual burdens (to name a few!). Life in a fallen world is rife with difficulties and the Christian is not exempt from them. Furthermore, we must not think that we are to endure difficulties (burdens) alone. Second, if we are to bear one another’s burdens, we must be aware of what the burdens are. May I suggest that we bear one another’s burdens best in the context of community, community here being the local church? It is difficult, rather, it is near impossible to carry out the command to bear one another’s burdens if believers are not living among each other, doing life together, engaging with one another, praying for one another, encouraging one another, challenging one another, and more. Apart from this kind of interaction we will be largely unaware of the burdens that others bear. We bear burdens in the context of community. Upon conversion, believers become part of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). The body of Christ is made up of local assemblies of believers who covenant together to love and care for one another. The local church is the context in which believers live in community. Here we are made aware of the burdens that our brothers and sisters bear, and we are able, by God’s grace, to fulfill the law of love by bearing one another’s burdens. Our Savior teaches us that everyone will know that we are his disciples if we have love for one another (John 13:35). Bearing one another’s burdens is a demonstration of our love and we bear one another’s burdens best in the context of community.

Blake Gerber
Discipleship Minister

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