A yoke is a fitting for a so-called beast of burden that would be placed around the neck of one or more animals like an ox for example. This fitting was placed around the neck and allowed the animal or animals to pull various loads. it was a curved piece of wood with leather straps as a binding which would allow them to draw a plough or a cart or any other type of weight. During our bible study this past Tuesday a certain verse from Acts 14 caught my attention. They strengthened the disciples and urged them to remain firm in the faith. They told them, Acts 14: 22 “If we are to enter God’s kingdom, we must pass through many troubles.”
We also know that our Lord said this in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” Many of us today are carrying heavy loads, in the workplace, family, debt and the emotional problems that they bring with them. The next two verses are ones of encouragement. In Acts 29 and 30 we find these words “29 Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. 30 My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”
It is a hard truth and one we as Christians sometimes overlook or just ignore. As the church we must learn to accept our hardships, just as we should as individuals. Paul went back to encourage these people and the churches that were being established that this should not be a time to of wasted energy fighting them or wondering “why us or why me”. We need to spend our time getting to know God and his plan for our lives the more time we spend doing that, the stronger we will grow in the faith.
Paul also wrote about a yoke in 2nd Corinthians 6: 14-18 :
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”17 Therefore,“Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”18 And,“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Maybe I am taking to many liberties and searching for a connection that at best is a stretch. I believe that part of what Paul is saying here is that our journey will be much easier if we seek the fellowship and strength that is offered through the Christian community. Do not mistake my writing to infer that we withdraw within our walls, that is not what we are called to do. Our burdens are many and at times too heavy but with Jesus’ “The yoke is easy to bear, and the burden is light.”I believe that many of our churches are torn apart by conflict and issues that distract from the real mission Christ calls us out to do. Let us be yoked together as one in serving Christ Jesus.
There is always room in the pew……jk