Saturday, June 28, 2014

An Added Burden

By Alan Smith

    I read once about a missionary who was living in Africa.  He was disturbed over something he was seeing.  The women walked around with heavy loads of wood piled on their backs.  Their husbands, on the other hand, carried nothing more than a walking stick and walked several yards in front of them.  It was considered an honor for the women to carry these heavy loads for their husbands.
    Feeling sorry for them, this missionary saw a need for some wheelbarrows.  So he sent a telegram back to the United States, ordering 200 of them to be shipped immediately.  When they arrived, he showed the women how to load the wood in the wheelbarrows.
    A few weeks later, he returned to the village to find the wheelbarrows all parked in a neat row -- unused.  He asked, "Why aren't you using them?"  One woman explained, "Well, you see, when we got the wheelbarrows loaded and all of that up on our backs, they were just too heavy!"
    That incident suggests the way a lot of people have experienced religion.  It holds out a promise to them of a fuller, richer life where all their problems will disappear.  In reality, it just brings additional burdens -- one more thing to do, one more thing to worry about.
    That's the way, in fact, that the Pharisees saw religion -- a list of rules to be kept, a pile of commands that they saw as their responsibility to enforce.  Jesus rebuked them, saying, "You load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." (Luke 11:46)
    But Jesus offered something that the Jews found nowhere else - a relief from those burdens.
    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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)
    Do you find that religion is a burden for you, or have you discovered the "rest" that Jesus intends his followers to know?
    Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@gmail.com



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