The burden of the Lord…so we read in the scripts of the Old Covenant. Debate continually rings in the halls of theological study, and as always with our disjunct state of being, the Church, as we call it, has chosen to divide herself and stay bordered in various ‘camps’, as it were, over, among other things, the interpretations, relevancies and implementations of Old Testament doctrine. My initial question is, Who, or even What, is this God, this Supreme Being, if He cannot maintain a steady, consistent, mono-polar personality that can be understood and known? Why is there such a disconnect between the Alpha and the Omega of God and His Word?…
Well, I suppose the above italicized is my impressive, wordy, and likely confusing way of expressing my personal frustration and rather disgust for the dissention within the Church, and not necessarily that I believe God is in conflict with Himself. I believe that, to some degree at least, the reputation of the Church reflects upon Him, whether fair or not, and since we are so schizmed, well, I can only imagine what some may think of Him. So, here we go…
[By the way, none of my devotionals ever contain the entirety of what I have within and in note. I simply don’t have the patience to take the time to get it all down, and I doubt you, the reader, would have the patience to read it all if I did…believe me, it would be that long.]
So, the burden of the Lord…the word ‘burden’ in modern English lends to the feeling of heaviness or unsettledness of heart and soul. But when found in the Old Testament prophets’ writings, the word refers more to punishment or judgment. I think we correlate the weeping of Jeremiah or sackcloth and ashes of several others with this specific word ‘burden’, but to be accurate, the weeping and painstaking intercession was a result of the ‘burden’, not the ‘burden’ itself. The prophets felt the heart of God and His grief over the nations under judgment, and/or had personal compassion over the people or nations themselves.
But today, there are arguments within Christian theological discussions about the relevancy of Old Testament conditions and existences, one of which is this–do we or should we still experience a weighty, heavy ‘burden’ for any given thing, and if so, how long should we ‘carry it around’, so-to-speak? And for that matter, do we, or does anyone, receive revelation today on the judgment of nations as the prophets of old did? And is the contemporary prophetic comparable to the prophetic of the Old Testament times?
I may or may not directly answer these questions myself, but I would rather respond to this by addressing the undercurrent that I mentioned earlier, the division of the Church over these questions. Whenever exploring the things of God, we must be careful never to get away from homebase…the centric theme of the cross of Christ and our intimate surrender to Him, and compassionate availability to people. These two things have no excess. Everything else has a limit…yes, even the things of God…which includes delving into extensive theological hair-splitting.
There’s always a point where we have to take pause and step back from the fascinating and keep all things in perspective, hidden in the shadow of the cross. There’s a reason that Paul, perhaps the greatest theologian in history, said that he only preaches Christ, and Him crucified. It’s not that he never talked about anything else (obvious by his letters at the very least), but he understood this balance, this focus. He knew when to say when.
But because the Church as a whole doesn’t know when to say when, at least in surplussed America, we go down paths that were never meant for us to tread, leading us not only away from the central focus that keeps us closely knit one to another, but bringing us to places where we stay out in the forest and create segregate fellowships, often with even undertones of emnity against our very own brethren…and we don’t realize how anti-Christian we have become, saying we love God but portraying various shades of hate towards our own family in Christ. This is at the very least appauling to me.
How can we ever have purity in our fellowship with God and great effectiveness in our passion and pursuit of reaching those who are hurting, dying, lost, broken? We need each other. Why do so many entities feel like they can and must function on their own or within their own group? The true body of Christ exists worldwide. If we would only lose enough pride to not have to be the one in front of everyone else, or be the name or group that is taking credit for this or that, and somehow come to a place of common ground, the common ground of the cross, and operate in concerted flow to reach our world…what in this world could we really accomplish? Why do we have to be an army of such civil war?
This is my burden…
(…one of several, to be exact.)