All Christian lives are interconnected through their faith in Jesus. Maybe nowhere is this truth more specifically stated than in Paul’s letter to the Church in Galatia. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
This passage says three things to the community of believers about what it means to follow Jesus together. (I will start at the end)
- There is a law to following Jesus. Most of us think of being a Christian as a journey of grace. God loves us, forgives us, and gives us freedom. While those are true, the New Testament states that there are rules to following him too. I believe this passage is a reference to John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (35) By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The one primary requirement for being a believer in Jesus is that we love the other believers. We care about one another on this journey of faith.
- We are to carry each other’s burdens. Each of us has a weight that we are carrying through life. It might be one enormous burden we have carried since childhood like an absentee father, or it might be an ever-changing burden with the passing of years. Some people struggle in their marriage, then with their children, then with aging parents and then with the difficulties of age. Everyone had a burden, and the imagery is that as a community, we come around the struggling person and help to lift that weight off their shoulders.
- We must be willing to share our burdens. This is only implied in the passage, but it is significant. For me to help carry your load, you must tell me about the weight you have on your shoulders. What is it that you are carrying that is about to crush you emotionally? I think these two things are deeply connected. For me, many times, when I have finally opened up to someone about my difficulties, it was like a burden was removed just in talking about it. That weight you are feeling is hurting you, and you need to tell someone about it.
The community of believers is a place where we can find someone – it can be a leader, or it might be a friend – who can help to carry our load. If you are not sharing your struggles with someone, it is not healthy for you. If you are not contributing to carrying someone’s burdens, then you are not fulfilling the law of Christ. It is easier to stay out of other people’s lives and not help lift the weight, but that is not what it means to follow Jesus. We are all in this together.