Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
Happy Interdependence Day! Wait… What? It’s Independence Day, isn’t it? Yes, on the calendar. But the independence of our nation required the interdependence of citizen-soldiers, enlightened thinkers who envisioned our republic, civic disruptors (think: Boston tea party), and the citizenry at large. Had they not pledged their futures and lives to each other, our nation would not exist.
It has and continues to require the interdependence of voters, legislators, judges, taxpayers, the military, and the investment of many citizens to keep this country running. To be fair, that sense of common purpose is fraying and tearing in our current environment, but it holds together because we rely on each other.
On this day focused on how the United States is set apart, let’s also remember what holds Americans and the world together.
As Christians we know that interdependence is the model of the Kin-dom of God. It’s the very essence of the Trinity, which is well defined as relationship itself, each person pouring itself out for the sake of the others. Jesus taught us that in this Kin-dom everyone would be allowed across the border, seated at the table, given food and drink. St. Paul looked at this reality and knew that, as the body of Christ, we “bear one-another’s burdens.”
Here’s how Eugene Peterson sums it up in The Message:
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.Galatians 6:1-3, The Message
As our nation struggles to define its identity on this 243rdbirthday, it is good to ask what we followers of Jesus Christ have to offer to the conversation. One gift we bring is the ability to raise up the goods we hold in common at least as high as the rugged individualism that seems to define our politics and economics.
What would our political discourse look like if we took seriously Paul’s (and Jesus’) admonition to bear one another’s burdens? How do we bear the burdens of the African-American, indigenous, and LGBTQIA communities? How about detention camps and the situation along our southern border? Our view of General Assistance and other aid for the poorest among us? How could we earn, save, and spend in ways that bear other’s burdens?
As we honor the freedom that others have won for us, let’s take a minute to consider how the grace bestowed by Christ makes it possible to see the gifts and burdens we share with all of God’s people. Let’s not be deceived that we stand alone.
Who needs you to bear their burden today?