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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Burden of Christ

Shortly after my mission, I was privileged to join a family to their trip to Florida. The weather is much more pleasant than the weather in Idaho. The temperature was equivalent to the temperature on a nice summer day in the Carolina's, so I felt fantastic. Of course, we do not take a vacation from the work of the Lord. Therefore, we attended the ward there to partake of the Lord's Supper. In the second hour, I went to Sunday School and was taught further concerning the new testament. The specific lines mentioned were taken from the testimony of Matthew, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30)

I had to ponder and separate the scripture into individual parts. The first part reads, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden..." The God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob is calling many to follow him, but there are conditions to his calling them. He gives the specific requirement that all who "labour and are heavy laden" must come unto him. The Lord does not call people who are simply idle, slothful, or outright lazy to come unto Him. So, what did the savior mean by "all ye that labour"? The simple answer can be seen in his calling of the twelve Apostles. He called them while they were working, not while they were at home. The account says, "They left striaghtway." So, much like his ancient apostles, His latter-day disciples are called, in their labor. The term "heavy laden" points to the burdens all people face in their lives. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "Many carry heavy burdens. Some have lost a loved one to death or care for one who is disabled. Some have been wounded by divorce. Other[s] yearn for an eternal marriage. Some are caught in the grip of addictive substances or practices like alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or pornography. Other[s] have crippling physical or mental impairments. Some are challenged by same-gender attraction. Some have terrible feelings of depression or inadequacy. In one way or another, many are heavy laden." Now, there is one small, yet significant word which ought to be observed... "and." This word ties the two ideas, and gives the ultimate requirements for one to be humble. They must be laden with a burden which is bringing them down, and working hard to overcome this burden, or to utilize it. Christ calls the humble desiring to better themselves.

After the Sunday school teacher shared these lines, he explained the Latter-day pioneer's and their yokes, oxen, and wagons. He said "If the load is in the front of the wagon, the load feels heavier on the yoke... If the load is further back, it lifts the yoke, but is more difficult to pull... With Christ in control of our burden, it is well balanced." With this explanation, the imagery in my mind gave me the idea that Christ is upon the wagon letting the ox, do the pulling. After all it is his yoke, and he decides what to do with it. In support of this I shared, in a previous post, some lines I wrote to my brother:
"Aren't we all bound by chains? Smokers are bound by their addiction to cigarettes, Porn addicts are bound by images, sexaholics are bound by their carnal desire to pleasure themselves, greedy people are bound by their hunger for money, prideful people are bound by what others think about them. In all of these scenarios, the addictions control those who are bound. If I am bound, I am bound by the most wonderful being in the universe, my Father. He knows best. If I am bound, I have seen so many more blessings than if I was bound by something/someone else."
Though I had thought of this concept prior to this coming to the forefront of my mind, I had a different thought. As I read those lines, it involved the fact a yoke has a place for two oxen to pull a cart. When I read the lines "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." I see Christ, not as the task master, but one doing the task. He takes on all the weight, while we walk.

Now, as opposite as these views seem, the understanding of both is important to understand the character of Christ. There are many examples in the Hebrew scriptural language when multiple interpretations are present. Depending on the circumstances, one may read a familiar scripture and find an entirely new meaning behind it. The two views which I have see is:

1.) to view Christ as the owner of the yoke, and oxen when He says, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." The oxen don't have claim to the ownership of the yoke, the Master does.
2.) to view Christ as the puller of the yoke when he says "My yoke..." I testify Christ is much stronger than I. He had to suffer much, and resist much, things I could never fathom of doing. When a dog is given a collar for walking, he could never claim ownership of it, but it is often referred to as the dogs collar. Similarly, the yoke can be called Christ's.

Whichever interpretation you choose in whatever circumstance you happen to be in at the time, the blessing is the same, "and I will give you rest." In either of the thoughts, the work of pulling doesn't cease, but the worker is given rest. Just because the load gets lighter doesn't mean the walking stops. If an ox did stop... there would be far more disastrous outcomes, but, as they continue to walk, "They shall find rest unto their souls" because they take upon themselves the burden (or the yoke) of Christ, which is "easy and... light." This is the entirety of the Doctrine of Christ. I promise, as you humble yourself and strive to continue to walk the path of Christ, the burden you are carrying, be it addiction, grief, depression, anger, physical pain, or any other affliction, Christ will be there lightening your load. I have experienced this myself. Christ lives, and so do his promises. I testify in His sacred name, Jesus Christ, amen.

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