“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” — Galatians 6:2
As creatures, we were fashioned with an intrinsic drive to work and to cultivate that which is placed before us for our own prosperity. Every human inherits this inward drive. In the book of Genesis, this was expressed in the form of a command of God to Adam to be “fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth and subdue it.” This is known today as the Cultural Mandate — the mission of the human race to reflect the nature and character of God throughout the world. Though the image of God was distorted at the Fall of Man in Genesis three, and thus the ability to fulfill this mandate became more difficult, God’s eternal plan for the restoration of his image in mankind was fulfilled ultimately in Christ. Now it is the church’s mission to carry on, in part, the work of the Cultural Mandate. So just as each human is made to work and cultivate that to which God calls them, so also is the church to work to fill the earth with restored image-bearers for the glory of God.
So just as each human is made to work and cultivate that to which God calls them, so also is the church to work to fill the earth with restored image-bearers for the glory of God.
But there is still another command Christ gives to his church in the fulfillment of her calling. This is what Paul calls “the law of Christ” in Galatians 6:2. What is the law of Christ? Jesus himself explains, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34). So the law of Christ is the love of one Christian for another. And this command to love is expressed or fulfilled as we “bear one another’s burdens.” What does that mean? Bearing the burdens of others means coming along side a brother or sister in Christ and shouldering the weight of difficult trials and circumstances that may cause that person to stumble or falter in their faith. And notice who Paul expects to take on this task in the church: “you who are spiritual…” Paul is speaking to the stronger, mature disciples to look after and help the weaker disciples among them, especially if they are caught in sin.
How does all this fit into the mission of the church to continue to fulfill the Cultural Mandate? What we see given to our first parents in Genesis 1, Jesus reiterates to his disciples in Matthew 28: “Go and make disciples…” and Paul describes in Ephesians 3:10, that the “manifold wisdom of God” is to be made known through the church. So as the unity of the body increases through the bearing of one another’s burdens, so does the glory of God in the world. This is why Jesus prays in John 17:22–23, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
As we love and serve one another, carry each other’s burdens, and walk together through the difficult circumstances of life, we effectively cultivate the world for the glory of God through the radical submission and fulfillment of the law of Christ.
As we love and serve one another, carry each other’s burdens, and walk together through the difficult circumstances of life, we effectively cultivate the world for the glory of God through the radical submission and fulfillment of the law of Christ. Whose burdens might you help carry? Which of your burdens can be lightened by another brother or sister? How will you fulfill the law of Christ, for the good of the church and the glory of God?