While I’m tempted to post something about the holidays and how this time of year can bring such despair, I won’t, because let’s be honest – hopeless bleak despair can be all around all the time in the heart of practically anyone, whether we see it or not. That heaviness that accompanies the burdens people carry are a fact of life and, hear me on this, people are not meant to live under heavy burdens because Jesus offers “light and easy.”
“People are not meant to live under heavy burdens because Jesus offers light and easy.”Tweet
Look at His exact words in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
So, if Jesus is to be believed (and He IS), EVERYONE striving under heavy burdens is invited to Jesus by Jesus so that they can find rest for their souls. What capacity, Jesus! What welcome… what love! It’s like there’s a real solution for all this heaviness in the world. Yep!
It seems to me that there are two reasons why people remain laboring and heavy laden: 1) Christians haven’t told them there is this hope found in the Scriptures; 2) They know what it says but won’t believe it. Now, you and I can’t force anyone to believe, so #2 is on them, but #1 surely is our responsibility. After all Jesus went away, commissioning us to continue His work on the earth to communicate just this sort of beautiful promise, believing that not only would we earnestly and consistently obey Him in telling people how good He is, but that it would absolutely WORK!
The actual, concise, Great Commission from Jesus to His followers (/disciples/Christians) is found in Matthew 28:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Pare that down some more and we get to the crux of our obligation to a hurting world – “teaching them.” Let’s get real practical… I dare you to ask me to teach you about the French Revolution (sorry, been listening to a lot of Coldplay lately). I have absolutely no clue about it, although I could probably sing a showtune or two from Les Misérables, if that would help. (That’s about the French Revolution, right?) No term paper would be accepted with my diatribe about the plight of little Gavroche. This all means that I’d be useless as a teacher on the French Revolution because I don’t know anything real about it. So what do we make of “Christians” who have been tasked with teaching “the world” / [people who haven’t yet begun following Jesus] to obey everything Jesus commanded His followers to be about?
Graciously, let me start to answer that with one caveat… brand new Christians generally only know a tiny amount, so they couldn’t teach (for very long) about how to obey Jesus. BUT they can teach whatever they DO know. And we are all meant to continue learning and teaching, according to the actual, concise description of the Church, found in Acts 2:42: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Devoting ourselves to The Apostles’ Teaching is so… meta. The very thing we are meant to do in the 21st century is exactly what they were doing in the 1st century – learn about and teach about Jesus. It’s like, “hey, everybody, we gotta give our lives to learning about Jesus so we can give our lives to teaching about Jesus, and we’re gonna learn it from people who gave their lives to learn about Jesus and teach about Jesus. (And in many cases GAVE their lives because of teaching about Jesus.)”
I won’t delve into all the beauty and wonder of learning directly from The Holy Spirit, but I will say that God won’t lead you any way contrary to His written Word. (see 2 Peter 1:19-21)
God won’t lead you any way contrary to His written Word.Tweet
Just for good measure, I’ll throw in another Scripture related to this (helpful for good doctrine building), Romans 10:14-15, How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Since Jesus, now in Heaven at the right hand of God, making intercession for you and me to accomplish that Great Commission on earth in His stead, is not physically here to shout out to people, “COME UNTO ME… I’LL GIVE YOU REST,” we’ve got to do it. My gut (and a bunch of experience) tells me that the reason Christians don’t do any of this is that they don’t know enough about Jesus, and that creates anxiety about teaching anybody anything about Him, much less calling them to wholehearted sacrifice and life-long obedience to His unchangeable commands.
Here’s the calculus on this:
God gave us the Word (both in the flesh as Jesus and in text form as The Bible)
The Word gives us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
The Word contains our calling, our job, our role on this earth
(Amazingly comprehensive and generous of God)
Most Christians, in turn, don’t invest much if anything in The Word (in relationship, and even just reading)
So we don’t know what it says, what our role is, what we have available to give
Thus we don’t help ourselves, much less others, because of willful ignorance
(Not so great on our part)
But we aren’t doomed to this fate, just because it is rampant among self-described Christians. We can choose to invest daily in The Word, drawing close to Jesus with a growing devotional life which includes prayer, reading The Bible, meditating/listening for God’s instructions, obedience to said instructions [often defined as “ministry”].
I say, we become the change needed for hopeless, heavy-hearted people, because we’ve always been and will always be Jesus’ chosen answer for them. He gave us everything we need – up to and including Himself – and continues to give by the power of His Spirit, reminding us what He’s taught us, so when we encounter someone who needs a welcome embrace from Jesus, they find it ready in you, and in me.
I say, we become the change needed for hopeless, heavy-hearted people, because we’ve always been and will always be Jesus’ chosen answer for them.Tweet
(And since we can’t follow everyone home and live with them, we can certainly introduce them to where all the answers can be found… The Word. Simply opening The Bible to a passage you remember that may help them and reading it together can do wonders – and the best part is, they can take THAT home with them and be encouraged all over again and again as often as they need. If you need to “google” a few words to remember where that Scripture lives, DO IT… if anything, it shows you’re human and that’s always relatable. 🙂
I don’t normally do this, but this Take 6 song – where the title of this post came from – may help you remember the scripture, the call, and even put you in that mindset of ease and rest. It’s as if Jesus is singing to you as 6 of the coolest people on the planet. 😉