In Jesus’ brilliant Sermon on the Mount, he used a method of teaching in which he pointed out the way things were, or the way people had been taught, and then he upped the ante by pointing out the way things should be. He said, “You have heard it said…but I say to you” (Matthew 17:21-30, 38-48). He consistently raised the bar from the baseline to the best – and he really meant for people to live their best.
The best was not an idealized, fantasy version of life, but a description of abundant life in the kingdom of God where people are loved and transformed by Jesus Christ the King and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
From Me to We
We might employ this same method when considering what we hear culture say, and what we hear God say to us through the Bible.
You have heard culture say, “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” “Be a self-made person” and “Just do it!”
But God says to us, “Love one another” (John 13:34-35), “Wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14), “Be devoted to one another” (Romans 12:10), “Serve one another" (Galatians 5:13), “Encourage one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:18), and “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).
From Culture to Community
While culture idolizes self-sufficiency and individualism, God calls us to Christ-like community in which we care for each other, share with each other and even carry one another’s burdens. The Bible communicates God’s love and plans not just for individuals but for all people. The Bible is the story of God forming a people for His glory and to be His instrument of blessing to the world.
The apostle Paul kept God’s emphasis on the communal nature of our faith in mind when he wrote to the church in Galatia, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV). The reality is that God expects His followers to attend to each other and to be involved in each other’s lives in practical, helpful ways. While this is counter-cultural for our self-sufficient culture, it is foundational to Christian living.
Bearing a Burden
Recently, a church committed to bearing one another’s burdens had an unexpected and tragic death of a congregant. The new pastor was out of town and by the time he returned 24 hours later, the congregation had already scheduled two weeks of meals to be delivered to the widow, volunteered for shifts to spend time with her so she would not be alone and divided up tasks of helping with the pets, the errands, the house and the funeral.
Upon discovering this and realizing that there was nothing left for him to do the pastor remarked that he had never seen a congregation love each other like this. This is a Christ-like community of people who truly believe that life is better together.
Being present, helpful and willing to share each other’s burdens is both a responsibility and a privilege. It is not always easy or convenient, but it is worth it. Choosing to bear each other’s burdens cultivates compassion and generosity within a community.
Followers of Christ have been called to not just care about others from a distance, but to care for them by sharing the load in practical day to day living. In doing so, we fulfill the greatest commandment is to love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40, Galatians 6:2).
Grand Canyon University has been training Christians in ministry since its inception. If you are interested in pursuing a career in ministry, GCU's College of Theology has many degree programs, including Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry, Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Christian Ministry.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.