Let’s Talk about Bearing One Another’s Burdens

Gal 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

What is the Law of Christ? Theologians no doubt have written massive essays on that subject. But I don’t think it is that difficult to sort out.

Joh 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Joh 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

1Jn 4:21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

So there it is. It isn’t, as John says in First John, a new commandment. Because when we love one another we necessarily obey God’s moral Law, the ten Commandments if you will.

Mat 22:37-40 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (38) This is the great and first commandment. (39) And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (40) On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Here in Galatians, Paul gives us an insight into this love which is the Law of Christ – in regard to loving others. It is this: bear one another’s burdens. There are many ways that we can exercise love, but this one really distills it down. Bear one another’s burdens.

Now, let’s bring this to bear on this issue of abuse. What will be a genuine Law of Christ response to an abuse victim who reveals what is happening to her and asks for help? It is obvious – bear her burden. Recognize that burden. Think of ways that you can help carry that load with her and help her get free of it. No brainer, right?

But you all know what is happening in the churches very, very typically – so typically that we can write the story before it even happens. We know how it will play out. Will her pastor and fellow Christians step and and readily bear her burden? Nope. Doesn’t happen. In fact if I were an artist I would insert a sketch here of a pastor and others piling more and more load onto her.

Let’s continue to think this through. If bearing one another’s burdens is a primary way in which we fulfill the Law of Christ, then WHAT is this saying about the real nature of all these “christians” who refuse to bear the victim’s burden? I can tell you. They are not fulfilling the Law of Christ. They are not loving her. And it doesn’t take long in reading through First John to discover that anyone who claims to be a Christian but who does not love their brother/sister is a fake!! Anyone yelling “foul! You are being too harsh and judgmental!” – I challenge to pick up their Bible, go to First John, and demonstrate to me that I am wrong.

How a church or any Christian deals with an abuse victim reveals the very nature of their theology, of their religion, of their claim to be in Christ. And the large majority are flunking this test big time.

An Appearance of Godliness – The Real Thing (Series Finale)

2Ti 3:5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

We have looked in this series at many real examples of counterfeits. People who, as Paul warns, have an exterior appearance of godliness but who, like the whitewashed Pharisees, do not possess Christ within. We are told to avoid such people. This means:

  • We CAN identify such people (in spite of being told and told by pastors and churches and “experts” that we must not “judge” and that we cannot spot the fakes)
  • We must be wise to evil (Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.)
  • We CAN recognize the real thing (1Jn 2:5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:)
  • We are not to just blindly “go to church” assuming that most everyone there is a Christian. We are to AVOID the counterfeit and in many cases virtually entire church memberships are filled with corrupt, “christian-in-appearance-only” types.

But in addition to these things, we can be encouraged by the biblical truth that we CAN identify real godliness. That we CAN recognize Christ’s true people, even though their numbers are small and in this day of a plague of false gospels in churches, they are widely scattered. We CAN know them:

  • Joh 10:4-5 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. (5) A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
  • Joh 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
  • 1Jn 2:10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
  • Mat 7:17-20 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. (18) A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. (19) Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (20) Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Now, this means we must be able to recognize good fruit. Mostly we have been taught that fruit can be judged by its skin, but the real test involves what is inside. And THE key defining fruit of Christ’s people is LOVE. In all of the cases that we have examined in this series of articles, this is the one thing that is always lacking. Love. Love for Christ. Love for Christ’s people. A love that will not let go. A love that is not self-serving. A love that is so great that we will follow Christ wherever He leads. A loyal love – not a blind loyalty, but a loyalty that clings to Christ in truth and stands with His people in good and bad times.

Christ’s real people DO exist! Elijah, you recall, thought he alone was left. But it wasn’t true. The gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church and though His flock be scattered and persecuted so that they are found in caves rather than in cathedrals, we can always know that the real church exists. This of course all requires a big paradigm shift in our minds regarding what Christ looks like and what His church looks like.

Heb 11:37-38 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— (38) of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

 

In all of these years that I have been a pastor, there have always been a few. People who genuinely love Christ, love His people, whose love is a persevering, loyal love that is never extinguished. It is a love that is wise. It sees evil. It refuses to walk, stand, or sit with evil. It stands with those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. In other words, the real thing, the genuine article, walks by faith and is willing to pay the price of following Christ. THERE is the church. There is the power of godliness. Embrace such people!

Real Love and its Counterfeits

John 13:34-35 ESV  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  (35)  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

It is quite easy to talk about love. About loving others. Most people would claim that they exercise love, at least toward those closest to them. I suppose the most wicked man or woman has at one time or another mouthed that phrase, “I love you.”

And we certainly see this among people who profess to be Christians. What local church, for instance, doesn’t have signs and slogans about how everyone there just loves one another?  Church advertisements often use jingles similar to “loving God and loving one another.” That kind of thing.

And yet….is all of this really the real deal? I suggest to you that most of it is not. Think about the things that go on in the typical church:

Continue reading “Real Love and its Counterfeits”