“Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (JBP)
It is very sad to hear repeatedly of people leaving a church service or Christian gathering discouraged and heavy hearted. They have been urged to share their faith more, invite more people to whatever the church is doing, give up that particular habit, pray more, read the Bible more, and get more involved.
None of that is wrong. We need encouragement to do what is right and proper in our faith journey. And it is certainly not the job of the preacher or pastor to simply pat people on the head and avoid challenging them. But we need to be careful not to allow such challenges to become heavy burdens.
Jesus tells his followers he is not like those legalistic scribes and Pharisees. They made faith burdensome with their demands and rules and regulations. They went overboard in insisting people keep the rules. Jesus is not saying that following him is an armchair ride to heaven. There will be discomfort and adversity. But all in the context of grace and encouragement.
Perhaps the key is our grasp of the Holy Spirit, who alone can empower us to grow to be the people we are made to be. Trying extra hard and seeking to fulfil every human demand is a heavy burden. Seeking with the Spirit’s help to grow in our love of Jesus and others is a challenge we can embrace.
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After all, we are in relationship with a God of the gracious offer, not a God of the grinding demand.