Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Ultimate Imitation of Christ

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

At any given moment most of us have a burden, some heaviness or trouble in our lives. If you are anything like me, then you are acutely aware of your own burdens and almost completely oblivious to those of anyone else around you. It's true. Serving others, thinking of others, being considerate- these aren't my natural strong suits. So when I came across this verse, I was prompted by the Spirit to ask myself this question. "Do I help bear the burdens of other believers?"

The second half of the verse reveals just how important this question really is. It tells us that if we are helping to bear burdens then we are fulfilling the law of Christ. So if we aren't, then we must be failing to fulfill Christ's law. 

Why is this so important? The ESV study Bible adds a helpful footnote here. "To bear one another's burdens is the supreme imitation of Jesus, the ultimate burden bearer" (p.2255). Think for a moment about Jesus as the ultimate burden bearer. 1 Peter 2:24 says, "'He himself bore our sins' in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness." Galatians 3:13 reveals that "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us." But perhaps Isaiah 53:4-5 puts it best of all: 
Surely he took up (bore) our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

In Christ we have been set free from the Old Testament law; we are no longer obligated to observe times and seasons. So what is this law of Christ? We are obligated by the grace and freedom we have received through Jesus to live for God as His servants, obeying His commands. Jesus taught us that the second greatest command of God is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). If we are to fulfill Jesus' teaching, if we are to obey His commands, then we must bear one another's burdens.

All of us know a believer with a burden. Stop right now and think of at least one.

Now, prayerfully and considerately, do something about it. Help bear that burden. Encourage them. Pray for them. Serve them. Come alongside and mourn with them. Volunteer to help them get some work done. Give generously to them. Remember that we are called to love one another as a family- a new family, created through Jesus, as we are adopted as God's children. So do something to lighten the load of a brother or sister in Christ today. 

For further reading
  • John 13:1-17 & 34- Consider Christ's service through the lens of a powerfully symbolic act.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:9- The prince of heaven becomes a poor carpenter with no place to lay his head so that we might be saved.

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