Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
- Matthew 11:29-30
Its not that I want to belabor the already covered-to-death subject of the beltway sniper who, as of this writing, is still terrorizing suburban Washington, D.C., but I cant get the everyone knows best mentality of solving this and other recent horrors out of my mind.
With all the problems in the world, youd think we humans would learn we werent created to handle life alone. Mother, please, Id rather do it myself! isnt just a humorous television commercial; its the motto of the human race.
It was 20 years ago when I heard Dr. Billy Graham say, The world is fast losing its ability to govern itself. Really? After all these years? But civilization has come so far. Were better at it now.
eally? If my recent exploration into local and U.S. history is any indication, it would be difficult to make such a claim stick. In technology, medicine, and gadgetry to improve the way we live perhaps, but in human relationships theres a lot of regressing going on. In many cases, personally or on a national scale, Dr. Graham is right. We are losing our ability to govern ourselves. Otherwise, why is much of the world still at war, after centuries of wars have ended, and perhaps thousands of peace treaties have been signed?
I wonder if that wasnt Gods plan. You know, like the prodigal son in Jesus parable (Luke 15:11-24) who didnt realize how much he needed his father until he had come to the end of his own resources. In another lesson, Jesus taught His followers how to prevent such circumstances from happening in the first place by telling them to take His yoke upon them before they went into the fray.
If youve ever seen a team of horses or oxen pulling a wagon, you can picture what Jesus meant by being yoked together. His agricultural audience would have known better than let two such animals pull a load at their own pace. The yoke equalizes the pressure and minimizes the effort each animal has to bear alone.
I recently received a letter from a woman whose Sun-day school students wanted to know what happened to the people in the New Testament if they didnt obey the rules of the Pharisees.
I was intrigued by the question, and spent some time pondering an answer.
In the first place, these rules were not made by the Roman government, and thus were not subject to civil punishment. Instead, they were the product of religious leaders who had little else to do but interpret Gods laws as they saw them, and the Pharisees saw plenty of ways to pile on hundreds of complex sub-points for every simple law God had given.
The key word in this discussion is given. God gave the Ten Commandments to his young nation (see Exodus 20), not because He was a tyrant waiting to punish whose who didnt obey them, but for their own good. All the secrets for getting along with each other were included in the last six Commandments, and all the guidance they and future nations would need were outlined in the first four.
But, as we know, it didnt take long for this gift to be discarded as irrelevant. Thanks anyway, God, but wed rather run our lives and our world by ourselves.
nd so we do. We make many laws, we worship at the shrine of separation of church and state, and we quarrel among ourselves about whose way, which laws, and what human intelligence is superior to the rest.
Maybe its time to take another look at Gods way, or consider teaming up with the One who intended to carry the weight of the government on His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6), and whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
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