Good morning, FCC! It is a joy and honor to be one of your pastors.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows...
Leaders go first. Leaders take us where we may not want to go but need to go. Jesus is the leader who goes first. One of the reasons we follow Jesus as Lord is because he goes first. What I mean is this: what Jesus commands us to do as his followers, he does first for us. The apostle Paul tells us that bearing one another's burdens is fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6.2).
In the context of Galatians 6, bearing another's burden is to seek to restore another, who is caught in a transgression. The word “restore” is used to describe the mending of fishing nets. Restore is to repair and bring back to proper function. When we restore another, who is caught in a transgression, we will be required to sacrifice our time for them. But it may also require a sacrifice of our finances or other personal resources. Restoration from transgression is an invitation into discipleship. In gentleness, we share our lives, time, resources, energy and strength, to help another be restored to God in Jesus, and living in grace and truth. As we are called by Jesus to bear one another's burdens by restoring others, a complaint can emerge in our hearts. The objection is,"She got herself into this mess; she needs to get herself out.” There is an element of truth to this. We share burdens; we don't take on the full burden of someone else's restoration. But this objection also needs to be corrected by the gospel, by Jesus' leadership.
What I mean is this: when we see another caught in a transgression and needing restoration, we see a reflection of ourselves. We see what we are like apart from Jesus working in us. Though we are called to help share another's burden, Jesus didn't just share our burden, he shouldered the whole thing. Jesus has done for us, what he calls us to do. But Jesus has done more for us than he calls us to do. Jesus has completely borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. In bearing our griefs, he took the whole load of our sins and sorrows upon himself and he carried them completely for us. The Man of Sorrows, fully and completely bore our sin. He didn't sin, but he was punished as if he was the worst of sinners. Yet, he did this for us. He went first.
If (and when) we are tempted to turn away from carrying another's burden, let us take our eye off the size of the burden we are helping to carry. Instead, let us fix our eyes on the one who bore our griefs and sorrows. Let us fill our hearts with worship of Jesus, our burden bearer. Jesus went first. Jesus carried our full burden. And our great Lord and Savior calls us to love one another as he has loved us.
I am in the midst of a research and writing break, preparing for upcoming sermons. Starting March 11, we will begin a new series called Our Only Hope. This series will take us through Easter. After Easter, we are planning a baptism service, on April 8. Then, we will begin a series on the book of Proverbs called Seeking Extraordinary Wisdom that will take us into August. All that to say, I would appreciate your prayers as I am preparing.
This also means that Pastor Tim Prince will be preaching this Sunday and next, closing out the series Just Like Me. This Sunday he will be talking about Love. We will be learning from 1 Peter 1.22, where Peter calls us to love one another constantly from a pure heart. I am excited and encouraged to learn from Tim's research this Sunday.
Along with the Just Like Me series, we are asking that everyone read “The Art of Neighboring” during the first quarter of the year. I am hearing some encouraging reports that this book is reshaping how we view and care for our neighbors. Have you had a chance to read it? What are your thoughts about what you’re reading? Please send your stories to email@example.com. We have copies for purchase in our café area, or you can order your own following the link above.
LEARN ABOUT more FCC events and registrations at fcchudson.com.