“Bearing One Another’s Burdens” Is More Important Now Than Ever
The Bible never grows outdated and offers so much great advice. Galatians 6:2-3 say that we must carry each other’s burdens. The apostle Paul wrote that verse to the church in Southern Galatia many years ago, but it is equally true today. Although bearing one another burdens is considered an old-fashioned idea in some communities, it is a Biblical commandment that must be carried out today if people are going to be successful in reaching the world for Christ.
An Age of Increasing Loneliness
The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago conducted the General Social Survey in 1982, and they repeated the survey in 2018 by asking the same questions. Those responding to the 1982 study reported that they had two-to-three friends that they could share almost anything with, but the number of those responding in 2018 that they had virtually no close friends who they could share anything with had tripled. When asked about close friends, the most common answer was that they had zero in 2018. Yet, using Christ as our example, people need to be surrounded by friends. Bearing one another burden’s means that we have the responsibility to make people feel part of a caring community where people connect in real life.
A Rise in Mental Health Challenges
In 2015, 6.7 percent of American adults suffered at least one depressive episode within the previous year. One of the primary missions of Christ was to teach others to bear one another’s burdens, and mental health challenges can sometimes be those burdens. Yet, it’s not a message that is often heard in churches today. When helping someone with mental health challenges, it’s important to go about things tactfully and respectfully. There are several steps that Christians can do besides telling a person to pray and study their Bible more. Praying and reading the Bible are always good things for anyone to do, but they won’t necessarily help your friends get rid of their mental health challenges. Instead, you can follow Christ’s example of being someone those friends can confide in and lean on for support.
Being a True Neighbor
While those in the church may not have the professional skills needed to help those with mental health crisis professionally, they can be of practical assistance. Christians can see that daily living activities are done when people feel unable to do them for themselves. They can take people to doctor’s appointments as this may significantly reduce the number of missed appointments. They can invite them to be part of their social and religious gatherings. When Christians are looking at bearing one another burdens, it is not enough to say, “Call me if you need anything.” Instead, the conscientious Christian must go outside their comfort zone and help in practical ways that may make them uncomfortable in the beginning. Find ways to serve them as Christ did. For example, if they’re feeling depressed or overwhelmed, you can offer to take care of their kids or bring them dinner.
There are often seniors living in your community who can no longer care for their homes. This is an excellent time for you and your Christian friends to get involved with blessing others as you strive to bear one another’s burdens. You may want to remodel homes for elderly who need bathroom safety features installed or build ramps to allow them to get in and out of their homes safely. You may also want to get your whole family involved in caring for someone’s yard.
Homelessness is a real problem in many communities. Yet, it is one that many churches choose to ignore or pay money to another group to correct. Bearing one another’s burdens requires that Christians get involved in the lives of individual believers who may be down on their luck for many different reasons. It may require setting up a tiny home community for those who are trying to get back on their feet or operating a shelter within the church walls. It may also involve putting a shower into the church so that people can get clean before they go to a job interview, or it may require that people be offered clothes that are great for those interviews.
It is hard to be spiritually fed if you are physically hungry. Think about the last time that you went to church without breakfast and the pastor got long-winded. In the not so distant past, almost every church had dinner-on-the-grounds after services. While some churches head to a favorite restaurant after lunch, that requires someone to spend the day working to prepare and serve your meal. Instead, consider hosting potluck dinners and making sure that everyone knows that they are invited to stay, even if they brought nothing. You may also want to consider starting a community garden or working with local schools to make sure that families have a resource that they can go to throughout the week.
Loving One Another
Loving each other is not just the pastor's job. Instead, it usually means rolling up your sleeves and getting involved with people who are struggling. The great news is that when you show someone that you care about them as an individual, they are going to be more open to receiving the Gospel message. It means consciously working at forming relationships with individuals who are different than those who are found in most churches today.
It is a Biblical command to carry each other burdens. Doing things like these will not only help lighten others’ burdens, but will help you to become closer to Christ as you exercise charity as He did. Put these ideas into action in your community today.
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