“. . . and my burden is light.” Matthew 11.30
This phrase is quite a statement. It actually stands as a measuring line for the nature of our Christian lives. Is our faith a joy or is it a burden?
It is so easy to slip into the legalistic nature of religion: we ought to pray for a certain length of time each day, read so much of the Bible, give a proportion of our money and so on. Worse is when we do not meet the expectations that we or others have put upon ourselves, and then we feel guilty and discover that the faith that was meant to bring us freedom is actually a heavy burden that is a struggle for us.
Jesus said that it was never meant to be like this: his yoke should be easy and his burden is meant to be light. What is going wrong?
Legalism usually steps in to fill the void left by the lack of relationship. A good question to ask yourself when you are feeling burdened by your faith is, “Why am I doing it?” If you ask yourself why you read your Bible and the honest answer is because you are trying to get through a Bible plan, it is likely that legalism has crept in over your relationship with God. Similarly, if your prayers are more about simply saying words than speaking with God, again, you may want to rethink your motives.
The good news is that change can be immediate! If legalism has crept into your faith, begin to speak the word, “Jesus” as if he is right in front of you. Lay aside the ritual of religion and find the wonder of your relationship with him again.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission
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