A series of Christian reflections on the application of biblical principles to the art of living.
Bear one another’s burdens…all must carry their own loads (Galatians 6.2a, 5)
So advises the Apostle Paul. In immediate reaction to this seemingly contradictory counsel, my imagination takes flight in a paraphrase of Hamlet’s familiar and poignant inquiry:
To be(ar) or not to be(ar): that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (to befall another),
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles (on behalf of another)…
Why such apparent doublespeak? I don’t think that Paul (as I might) wrote one thing, then rethought it and, thinking better of it, changed his mind. Nor did Paul (also as I might), betraying a fundamental fuzziness of thought, seek to “cover all the bases.”
Rather, in my view, Paul highlights two principal parts in the complex equation of human relationships. To “bear one another’s burdens” and “all carrying their own loads” underscores an age-old concern which, expressed in more modern terms, involves establishing and maintaining appropriate personal boundaries.
In a word, how do we relate one to another in community? Whether that community be that of our intimate partnerships, the wider circle of our blood relations, the numerous spheres of our social and political associations, those geographically proximate alliances of people gathered in nations, or those covenantal societies in search of transcendent meaning, verily, religious communities.
Again, I ask: How do we relate?
More to come…
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