Friday, July 27, 2007

Unbiblically Burdened?

I want to talk about something that has been on my heart for a while now: people who are unbiblically burdened. This burden comes in many forms, from a pastor* who is over-worked, a deacon* who is emotionally drained, or even a congregant* who is made to feel guilty.

Jesus told us, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you 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." (Matthew 11:28-30, NASB) Did Jesus lie? When I look around I see souls who are heavily burdened and most of them do not even realize it. The burden has become a second nature to us, we do not realize it is there, but if it were missing it would probably make us very uncomfortable.

Our brothers and sisters all around us are feeling unwelcome, unwanted, and not needed. Yet, they are all asked to come back, to bring their friends, family, and strangers. They are asked to join more programs, give more money, do more stuff - but for what? Where does this all lead? Some say it is for the Glory of Christ - maybe, but does this go against what he said about his burden?

Should the pastor* be working 60+ hours a week, preparing lessons, counseling strangers, visiting hospitals, funerals, weddings, neglecting his family, etc.?

Should the deacon* be making major decisions about minor things, visiting every church member's* home, worrying about temperature control, the phone system, utility bills, etc.?

Should the congregant* be working 40 hours a week, only to feel guilty for not being at church* on Wednesday nights, not signing up for this years Awana or VBS, missing Sunday School to go to the Beach, etc.?

All of these things and many more make people feel like they are not doing what they should be doing, what they need to be doing to be righteous in God's eyes. A lot of time we feel guilty for not doing just a few of these things. Some will even doubt your salvation if you are not as involved as they think you should be. It is common for people to associate this guilty feeling with the Holy Spirit urging them to meet these requirements. But is it the Holy Spirit?

I wrote this post because I want you to know something; sometimes that guilty-feeling is not coming from the Holy Spirit. If someone says something the right way, a lot of times we do not think twice about it, especially if we trust the people speaking. If everyone else is doing the same thing, we might believe it is what we need to do too.

This is where discernment comes in. The best question anyone has ever asked me is this, "Where is that in the Bible?"

The next time you feel guilty about something, ask yourself, "Where is that in the Bible?" and then do a long Bible study. Do not stop with the first answer someone tells you - sometimes people whom we consider to be very Godly have beliefs based on misinterpretation, Scripture taking out of context, or just plain old tradition. Dig deep and hard, pray, talk, pray, ask questions, pray, study, pray. You just might find that Jesus' burden is much lighter than the load you have been carrying around, the load others expect you to carry. Then I would encourage you to use what you have found to help and encourage others. This way, they are not stuck carrying a load Jesus cares little about.

*I use these terms very loosely to fit the structure of the traditional church - forgive me.

7 comments:

Heather said...

A good word, Lew ... thanks for writing it!

~Heather

Alan Knox said...

Lew,

This is a very important post. I've found that some people prefer human-made burdens to Jesus' yoke. The human-made burndens give us something to do and something to point out as accomplishment and success. This does not make it right, but it does make it easier for us to be "obedient". Of course, the question is, does God consider all of our activities obedience or not?

-Alan

markandmeg said...

Great thoughts, Lew. I was caused to consider where I'm guilty of imposing my expectations of "goodness" on others. Jesus is the ultimate burden lifter and I'm inclined to believe the Holy Spirit and the body of believers assist us in keeping the weight of our shoulders. I hope I can do as well as you in directing others back to Christ rather than holding expectations over them.

Mark

Lew A said...

Heather

Thanks for stopping by!

Alan

To answer your rhetorical question, I would so no, God does not consider all of our activities (church activities) to be obedience. From my understanding, you could be "going to church" every day, involved in every program, doing everything you can - and still be in disobedience.

Mark

Thanks, that is great! It is hard for us not to impose our expectations on other people. That's why I love the simplicity of the Gospel. Any expectations above and beyond the Gospel can be easily evaluated.

Thanks for the comments.

God's Glory,
Lew

Aussie John said...

Lew,

Great post needing a much wider audience! One of the issues that need much thoughtful and prayerful consideration in most congregations.

To be fair, many leaders, for one reason or another, are, dare I use the term, naively unaware, they are "guilt-tripping" their brethren.

On the other hand, far too many leaders, because of the "results driven" philosophies of their denominations/belief systems, and the competitive spirit engendered between "pastors" and congregations, believe the end justifies the means.

Sadly, it has been my experience to know members of congregations who have become so used to "guilt-trips" that they don't hink a sermon was worthwhile if they didn't leave the meeting carrying a load of guilt, which they call "conviction". As you noted, "sometimes that guilty-feeling is not coming from the Holy Spirit".

When the Holy Spirit convicts (not makes guilty), He shows us the way out; when guilt (not conviction)is induced, the result is an endless maze, with every exit barred!

Aussie John

Lew A said...

Aussie John,

Thanks for the encouragement. You have some great insight on the problem. Thanks for contributing.

Lew

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