Christ Our Liberator!

Christ our Liberator!

Genesis 24:34-38,42-49, 58-67 
Psalm 45: 10-17
Romans 7:15-25a 
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11: 28

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

Well whanau, I am sure some of you have seen what’s happening at our church. Work has gone from small to major! And then, in today’s gospel, Jesus says, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

These verses sound so easy to follow. If we are struggling and feel like we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, don’t despair, we just need to handover all our problems to Jesus and our lives will be magically fixed. Simple stuff, and it is, until it doesn’t work or things go wrong, especially when our wairua can’t find any rest. I definitely know the feeling. We are so consumed with living life everyday that no matter how hard we try, we just can’t find the time or space to really rest our souls. So the burden or yoke we carry continues to weigh us down. When this happens, we get disappointed or become disillusioned with the whole concept of faith and doubt kicks in.

Therefore, we need to ask ourselves what or whom are we burdened too? To what or whom do we surrender ourselves too? What or who takes priority in our lives? These questions ultimately determine how we live, how we relate to others and how we make all our decisions. We are all bound to something: work, family, another person, money, power, success, reputation, etc. Sometimes our burden are more internal: like fear, failure, anxiety, anger, beliefs, opinions and the losses of loved ones. No matter what they are, the attachment we have to them, we depend upon, whether good or bad, to give our lives meaning and direction.  We all got them and usually there’s more than one!

So what burdens do you wear? Which one is number one? As Christians, we know the right answer. Jesus. Why? Because do we really live like him? Is it reflected by our actions and in our relationships? Apparently, it wasn’t in the community that Jesus was speaking too. If we are going to call ourselves Christians then we must fully commit ourselves to Christ. He must be our number one and determining burden. We can’t just hear the gospel, say some prayers, take Communion and then hope everything is going to be sweet. The gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response. That’s why Jesus is so harsh with his words. The people have seen God among them, they have witnessed the signs. Jesus has cleansed and healed their sick, calmed the sea, cast out demons, forgiven sins and yet, they still reject him. Sometimes we are like those little kids, unhappy with whatever is offered to us. In other words, we want the gospel to fit our beliefs, our desires and our agendas rather than shaping them to fit the gospel. That’s not an option for Jesus. We can either celebrate and give thanks for God coming in Jesus or mourn our sins, the brokenness of our lives and the pain in which the world inflicts upon us. But we must respond. We gotta choose one or the other. Either one is to wear the yoke of Christ. Both choices will influence our lives and our priorities.

So what does that mean for us? It means we need to take seriously our life of discipleship. Our prayers need to be more intimate with God rather than demanding and expecting what we want in return. We need to know the areas of service in which God wants us to work. Is it finding justice and giving dignity back to others. Caring for the poor, feeding the hungry and defending the oppressed. Maybe it’s all these things. We are to love our enemies, offer forgiveness before it’s asked for. Our faith should be evident by how we live and speak. We live day by day praising God and giving thanks for the gifts and blessings we have already received. We let go of our anger and stress. We don’t live in fear and we trust that our daily food will be provided. To be burdened to anything or anyone other than Christ will only leave us weary and tired. This is a spiritual condition, a disease of the wairua, as much or maybe even more than it’s a physical one. Our lives become fragmented and dysfunctional and we end up comparing, competing, and judging ourselves and each other. We act as one person in one situation and another person in a different situation. There is no internal integrity. Our energy and drive is minimal and we are exhausted with no depth or substance to offer. Soon relationships become superficial and meaningless.

Therefore, if you and I are burdened then maybe this means we are not fully wearing the yoke of Christ. Too often we treat our burdens with therapy, addictions, holidays, new things, being busy and striving to be perfect. But internal gaps cannot be filled by exterior things. More often than not we are more burdened afterwards as we were before. The only way of surpassing this condition is only found in sharing the yoke of Christ, the heart of God and the heart of humanity beating as one.

Jesus isn’t upset at the people but his heart is broken because they have chosen a life less than what they were created for, a life less than what God is offering. This is why his words soon become words of love, care, and concern for God’s people. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. To take on the burden of Jesus is to take on his life. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,” he says. It’s about letting go of ourselves and our egos so that our hearts and our minds become like his. To truly experience what matters most to Jesus and to see and touch the world like him. But more importantly to see God through the eyes of Jesus Christ so we can find rest for our souls. The place where we experience the full embrace of God’s unconditional love. Have a liberating week whanau. Amen.

Unpretentious God, you call us as we are; and in our weakness you find strength. Help us so to delight in who we are, that we are set free to dream of all that we could yet become; Through Jesus Christ our Liberator, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen 

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu