There is a New Testament admonition to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who
weep. From this, we learn the meaning of bearing the burden of another. Early in the pages of the New
Testament, the writers speak about the brotherhood or Church family ... some call it the Christian community. It
began with Jesus and the Twelve. It continued to the seventy apostles, the early Church in the Book of Acts, and
the congregations that Paul started all over Asia Minor.
An outstanding characteristic of these Christian communities was that the members learned how to bear one another’s burdens. They were linked heart and soul together to become the redeeming and the redeemed community―the forgiven and the forgiving fellowship. Hence, they were called not only the Church but also the very body of Christ, each one a member of that body. They needed each other, how desperately they needed each other. In that body, the hand could not say to the foot, “I have no need of thee,” nor could the foot say to the hand, “I do not need thee.” When one part of the body suffers, every other part also suffers. And when one part of the body rejoices, the whole body rejoices.
In our day of cliques and class, divisiveness, and aloofness, this New Testament principle of bearing one another’s burdens is something that could stand more emphasis. Everywhere we go, there is the apparent need to bear one another’s burdens. In business, the community, the family, and most of all, in the church, we have become an exploding population in a lonely crowd.
Let’s talk about the Church, our church. There are those who worship here who are suffering―they are lonely and burdened. They long to reach out to grasp a helping hand. Fear of rejection often keeps them from really making known the depth of their despair. Days go into months, and months go into years, and years pass into a lifetime, and they can sing only too well the old spiritual: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” Nobody knows! That should never have to be said by anybody in the Christian family of believers. Every individual is enslaved by love to every other member of the Church. In that enslavement, they bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Christianity is a way of life that requires action. We must learn that the cross of Christ is not a date―33 AD, but a timeless fact of history! It is not a piece of wood to which Christ was nailed; it is the way of love that bears the burdens of others. Theologically, Christ bore his cross as a burden of other people. If we are Christ’s true followers, there is no way of escaping the burdens of others.
Jesus taught the principle of burden-bearing in Matthew 25. Jesus stated that when we bear the burden of another, we minister to Christ himself. Ultimately, we shall be singled out with this one question: What burdens have you lifted for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison? To put this in our language, the questions will be: “What burden did you bear for someone else? Did you enter with a compassionate heart into the loneliness of some stranger in need?” And after those questions, our Lord will say:
“Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, my brethren, you did it unto me.”
Francis Mason Pastor Mason