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Yoke fellows with Christ
by Rev. Howard Ray Carey

When Jesus wanted to give encouragement to His listeners and followers, He spoke to them, strangely enough, of burden bearing and sharing a yoke:

  • ''Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.   Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'' (Jerusalem Bible, Matt. 11:28-30)

Let us take note that 'yoke' spells burdens, but it also spells sharing of those burdens.

In today's trying circumstances, when we are weighed down with our own problems of living in situations which often seem really frightening; when we look out on a world in crisis on almost every level; and on top of that realize that as aspirants and disciples we are called upon to assist our sisters and brothers through these crises in Soul ways of service; how in the world can we see the burden as light, or the yoke as easy?

The answer lies in the deep meaning of two words: yoke and Christ. When we really commit ourselves to His service we come into partnership with the greatest power in our world, applied to the greatest cause ever placed before us. The power is that of His light, love and wisdom, coupled with the power of divine purpose. The secret is to realize that this invincible power is being shared with us (or being put at our disposal) so long as we work under His yoke and with Him. One committed group of workers with Him have taken the appropriate name of Yoke Fellows.

The cause placed before us is nothing less than the salvaging of humanity through working out on earth the Plan of the Kingdom of God. This would of course be a most frightening challenge if we faced it alone and unaided. But when we are yoked with the Christ ---- whether we wear the label of Jew or Christian, Muslim or Buddhist, or only the label of 'human' ---- we realize that He always carries the heavy end of the load, so the promise is fulfilled. His yoke does become easy for us, and the part of the load placed on us is light. Many of us have proven this in our own experience. For when struggling alone we have floundered badly, like Peter trying to walk on water. But when we come under His yoke, and share His burden for humanity, all is changed. Whatever we are called upon to do, we discover there is made available to us both the strength and the wisdom to carry it through.

When in Palestine 2,000 years ago, in speaking these comforting words to His followers and listeners concerning the light burden and the easy yoke, He was announcing relief from the heavy burden of the Mosaic law, made many times more complicated and difficult by the hair-splitting Pharisees of His time. Jesus warned of them:

  • ''They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they.'' (Jerusalem Bible, Matt. 23:4)

Today there are numbers of people still struggling under heavy burdens of restrictions and dogma placed upon them by ecclesiastics. But many more are staggering (and too many starving) under the intolerable weight of economic and political burdens placed upon them by greedy governments and industry. Again the Christ comes, as of old, to bring liberation. And again He necessarily calls us into partnership with Him to share the burden.

For instance, in Message No. 105 He points to our sharing with Him:

  • ''Through you, My dear friends, I shall change the world.  Through your willing Service, My dear ones, the New Age will be built...  Help Me, My friends and brothers, to establish this Light in the world and create for all men the circumstances of Peace and Joy.''

And again, in Message No. 35:

  • ''My pain can be yours; My burden can be shared.  I offer you both. Take My pain, My brothers, and turn it into Joy.  Ease My burden, My friends, and know Bliss.''

But again, He makes provision for the load to be lightened as He bids us:

  • ''Look within and find the readiness to share. Remove from your shoulders the weight of guilt and suffering. Remove forever the curse of separation, of loneliness and fear.   Take heed, My friends, and do this, do this now.  Know that My Love will support you.  My Law will guide you.'' (Message No. 117)

What a strong assurance. This removing from our shoulders the weight of guilt and suffering, and the curse of separation, of loneliness and fear will indeed make for us the lightness of burden and the easy yoke. Let me quote just one more of the many assurances He gives us:

  • ''Daily grow the hosts of Light, and on these, My people, I know I can rely... Walk with Me into the sunlight of the New Time.  Create with Me that glorious future for all men.  I shall remove from your hearts the fear of death, the fear of life itself, the fear of your brother and yourself.'' (Messages Nos. 122 and 123)

Indeed, for many aspirants and disciples, as they give themselves gladly and unstintingly to sharing in this task, the glorious promise of joy and light is in the process of being fulfilled right now. You and I belong in that company. What reason is there to hold back?

This article is a chapter from The Joy of Christ's Coming This book by the late Rev. Howard Ray Carey was published by Share International Foundation in 1988. It is not currently available in hard copy form. Copyright © Share International Foundation.  Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard version unless otherwise indicated. 

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005