Skip to main content

The "yoke" of obedience

Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.” 
Most of us would think of a yoke as some form of device that put an animal into a place of subjection - pulling the cart or plow behind. It was indeed used to "secure" the animal to the cart or plow, but it served a very special purpose. It was used to guide and connect. Guide the oxen as they plowed and secure them to the cart or plow, and often each other so they could plow or pull in unison. That makes the yoke very important because it actually helped ensure the oxen were all going in the same direction and that they were purposeful in their movement.
It is a good thing to be ensured your movement is purposeful, isn't it? We don't just want to wander through life! It is quite another thing to find our purposeful movement to be made easier because we were actually "pulling together" rather than trying to do it all on our own. Christ's offer here is for us to learn the art of "pulling together" rather than thinking we have to bear the burden alone. In times long ago, the yoke came to be equated with slavery or "forced" submission. When it was applied to the ox, he knew he was in for a long hard haul and must do it regardless of how he felt that day.
Christ's offered yoke is not one of "forced" submission, but one of voluntary submission - leaning into the strength given when two pull together rather than having to pull all alone. There are times when I think we see Christ's offer as "putting us in the yoke" and then commanding us to pull - like the farmer behind the plow. We forget that Christ wants to pull along with us, not walk behind us. His place isn't behind the plow, it is right there helping us pull the plow. Yet, there is more. To obey really means to listen - at least that is the root of the word in Latin. To allow the yoke of Christ then is to put us into a position of listening - to really hear and then to move in unison with him.
Rather than resisting the yoke, we need to lean into it - for it brings us to a place of "union" in the work ahead of us. We aren't forced to work out this walk of obedience all alone. He is right there, reminding us each step of the way how it is done. He is there pulling with us - not against us. He also is there to bear some of the burden we feel as we attempt to plow that ground of obedience the first time. The first time the plow passes, it is hard and it takes a whole lot of energy. The next and subsequent time that plow passes through that same ground, it becomes easier and easier, until we hardly notice we are plowing at all! 
We might think the yoke will make life harder for us, but in actuality it makes it easier. Just sayin!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Your full attention, please

My mother frequently uses the term "Listen to me!" as a way of getting my attention so that I actually stop, pay close attention, and hear out whatever her idea or issue is at the moment. It isn't always at the most convenient moment, nor is it always easy for her to get out whatever it is she wants to share. Yet, it is important enough for her to ask to for me to hear it, so I respond with, "I'm listening, mom", and she begins.  It isn't said in anger or in a moment of disappointment. Rather, these words are usually spoken in a "sing-song" manner, but with very specific intent - they are intended to get me to REALLY listen to what she was saying. Why? Because she knows she has something to say even if it is getting harder for her to say it! She has walked through much already, learned many lessons, and has the advantage of experience on her side, but the disadvantage of advancing age makes it harder and harder for her to actually form those t…

Getting at the heart of it all

Have you ever seen someone so good with their skinning knife they can just peel away the hide of an animal without a rip or tear, no waste of any of the meat just below that skin? I have seen some fishermen able to fillet their catch with such skill not even one bone is found in the fillet. How do they learn this skill? I think it comes to them through practice and with the employment of the right 'tool' to do the job at hand. There is comfort in knowing that God means what he says and his Word will come to pass. His Word is like the scalpel in the skilled hands of a surgeon or the knife in the hands of the skilled hunter. As a nurse, I have seen the skillful use of the scalpel - dissecting away the finest of tissue to protect the healthy tissue and to expose the tissue that has become devitalized by disease or decay. I have also seen the damage done by a "blade" in the hands of one not trained or at all skilled in its use. The difference is beyond description.

God m…

Be a little salt

Ever wonder why Jesus left his disciples with the idea of being 'salt on this earth'? We don't fully appreciate salt these days because we aren't as accustomed to how it was used during the times Jesus spoke those words. We often have to put ourselves into the culture where the words are being recorded in order to fully comprehend the significance of their meaning. In the days of the disciples, salt was a basic "staple" of life. It was that which acted as "preservation" for everything. It also was the main seasoning of the dishes prepared - although there were other spices, salt was a 'staple'. Perhaps we would do well to look at some of the other functions of salt in order to see what Jesus may have meant when he referred to our lives a salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth.

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltin…