Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wearing the Wrong Yoke

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

~Galations 5:1

Yoking ourselves to the 'Egypt' of our day leads to stress, anxiety, and a yoke of iron around our hearts, minds and souls. Busyness, self inflicted complications and the pressure of living in a performance based society do not have us living under the yoke of Christ. Sometimes we pile our own plates so high, and none of it was given to us by God to do. It may be our yoke is wanting to impress others---so we go above and beyond, get into debt and yoke ourselves to the worlds standards. Other times our yoke is the pressure on us and our children to 'perform' for others---too many classes, too much academic pressure, the focus is on performance and "accomplishment" and not on God.

"Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you."
~Deuteronomy 28:47-48

The yoke of Christ is there for us. We need only to follow God's ways, listen to Him and be willing to admit to ourselves our own worldliness. We have not lived for God, we have lived for impressing man, and it has led to heavy iron yoke of bondage. "With joyfulness and gladness of heart...." means that we follow God's ways knowing that in Him we are not giving up anything, but we are gaining a relationship with the one who knows what is best for us. Resentfully following God while thinking we are 'sacrificing' to do so does not lead us to living under His light yoke. So often we serve our "enemies" and the yoke of iron destroys us. It destroys our peace, our health, our families and our Godly values because we have taken the yoke of the world's expectations upon us, where we will never measure up and where we will never be enough.

"I drew them with gentle cords, With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them." Hosea 11:4

God stoops to feed us with His living word, with His peaceful ways, with His salvation, yet we refuse to walk in His ways! The world's path is so broad and so appealing, it offers false happiness and bondage under the disguise of deceitful freedom. Jesus is our guide and shepherd. He teaches us what needs to be in our lives and what is false. We can keep things simple without feeling we are missing out ---missing out on the temporary that will pass away and really missing out on peace and life. Missing out on Jesus, who He is, and walking step by step with Him.

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them, and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” ~2 Corinthians 6:14-16

We cannot yoke ourselves to a worldly lifestyle and not expect consequences. So often we have 'fear of missing out syndrome' so we watch all the latest tv shows, we keep up with pop culture, we get the "right" job that will impress others, we buy the right house and cars, and we push our children into a life that is so busy and unhealthy for young, growing minds. Social media takes our time, impressive birthday parties take our time...all while claiming we are followers of Christ. Yet this lifestyle is only following the world, with little time to examine the ways of God, or even to hear His quiet voice. So our yoke is heavy, all the while longing for a yoke of rest and not knowing how to attain it.

If we want to strive for anything, it should be to wear Christ's light yoke. In Him we are not pressured or obligated to perform, we are not yoked to the ways of the world, we are yoked to Christ and walking His way. When we truly turn our hearts to Him, with a commitment to change our life and walk God's narrow path, we find the light yoke. It is lighter and more freeing than what we feared giving up. We may find we only feared giving up our old slavery, because that was all we had ever known. We don't have to complicate things in our lives so that we impress ourselves with our feelings of stress, that we are stressed because we are "doing so much" and it's the "right thing to do." Walking the simple path leads to freedom, health and knowing God.

We can be free from the chains of the world, it's expectations, from performing, and rest in Christ, the work He accomplished on the cross for us, and follow Him without fear.

“If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness, shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." 
~Isaiah 58:10-11

"Only the man who follows the command of Jesus single-mindedly, and unresistingly lets His yoke rest upon him, finds his burden easy, and under it's gentle pressure receives the gentle power to persevere in the right way. The command of Jesus is hard, unutterably hard, for those who try to resist it. But for those who willingly submit, the yoke is easy and the burden is light." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Is it a misfortune to be delivered from the heavy yoke of the world, and to bear the light burden of Jesus Christ? Do we fear to be too happy, too much delivered from ourselves, from the caprices of pride, the violence of our passions, and the tyranny of this deceitful world?" ~Francois Fenelon

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