This bible verse popped into my head a couple of days ago. It really comforted me when I first accepted Jesus at eighteen. I wasn’t really sure what Jesus meant by this at the time. My life was in so much turmoil both mentally and physically. I meditated on this passage quite a lot.
Here is the passage in its entirety:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
English Standard Version (ESV)
Now I am puzzled by this verse and need to take a fresh look at it. For many years I have thought that Jesus’s words were about doing hard things, like loving your enemies, taking the narrow gate and putting camels through eyes of needles.
“My burden is light?” Really? I thought that an authentic life of faith was about struggling against my fallen nature, making tough choices and doing hard things. It has been a heavy burden.
A new thought occurred to me. What if I am taking this all wrong?
Take a look at the laws of nature. Suppose I decide that I don’t believe in gravity; that the law of gravity doesn’t apply to me. I’m a unique individual and I should be able to do what I want.
How do you think that is going to work for me? Every time I encounter gravity I’m going to rebel against it. I’m going to complain about it and resist going along with this unfair situation. Is my life going to be easy? I’d be making my own life a living hell by fighting against an immoveable force.
This seems like a ridiculous example, right? But people do this all the time. Not fighting against gravity, but resisting the Divine Principle of God’s creation. Gravity is not the only force to be reckoned with. There are many other laws in this amazing world of ours that are just as powerful as gravity. These are spiritual principles. Just like gravity, they are invisible.
I’m not too sure about the rest of the world, but in America, individualism is highly valued. Not only individualism, but rugged and rebellious individualism is upheld as a value in our culture. Literature is full of the rebellious individual who bucks the system, rebels against parental authority for the sake of their individual dream.
The myth of the self-made man, or rugged individualist who succeeds against all odds is just that–a myth. The truth is that we are interdependent. There is very little that I have that is the result of my individual effort. The food I eat is grown, harvested, transported, cooked and served by others.
I haven’t made my a stich of my own clothing. Even if I did sew my own shirt, where did the fabric and thread come from? Did I weave the cloth or spin the thread?
On an even deeper level, much of who I am comes from my parents and my ancestry. I’m not just talking about my physical body which came from the gene’s of my parents (for good or ill). My parents, grandparents, teachers, siblings, friends, and even local librarians had a hand in shaping my character and values.
So what kind of spiritual principles am I talking about? First is interdependence. One of the most basic principles we learn as children is the Golden Rule.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
This may also be known as the law of reciprocity in other religions. When we ignore this principle or rebel against it, consciously or unconsciously, we create problems in our relationships with others. To make things worse, we may blame others for the problems we have created by violating this spiritual principle.
“My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” By acknowledging and accepting the spiritual principles that Jesus taught we can come into harmony with them and discover that our life will improve.
The secret is to accept them as universal spiritual principles, just as powerful as the law of gravity, and learn to work harmoniously with them instead of resisting them.