“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Sometimes with religion it is easy to forget that church is to make one’s life easier. It isn’t to place burden on a person’s shoulders but is to assist us in carrying through with the burdens that are a part of everyone’s life. In this little passage Jesus describes himself as a yoke, a harness designed specifically for carrying heavy loads. One can imagine of the yoke and ox, the yoke of a plough horse and both offer protection to those beasts of burden. Their yoke designed for the task those livestock face. The yoke of the rural person carrying water, again it is to make an essential part of life easier. Should the yoke go away, does the need for water disappear? Does the need for the field to be plowed, or the cart to be pulled. It is the yoke that lightens the load, and the load is many times unavoidable. Christ is that yoke that carries the cross, that cross that bears our sins which without a doubt is our greatest burden.
When I think of this saying of Jesus’s, I do often think of it in the context of Christ’s Church and that churches critics and its reformers. I think of the barriers that so many have tried to remove. I think of disappearing kneelers, foreign languages, the “burden” of lengthy church services, and the burden of calling sin what it is. For the most part within those church walls those burdens honestly have never been much to bear. They certainly are miniscule when I think of that cross carried. Small compared to the burdens of poverty, of slavery, of war, of brutality, of dictatorships, of false gods, and the list goes on. Yet all of those painfully real burdens are carried through the yoke of Christianity, and their sting is lessened. It is Christ that addresses the plight of the poor, and it is His Church that puts so much effort into bettering the lives of those living in poverty. It is His Church that offers the yoke of comfort to the displaced refugee, the victims of war. It is His Church that speaks out against brutality. It is His Church that brings His flock back to greener pastures. His yoke truly is easy, and it truly lightens our loads.