Carrying the Burden of Others
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. - Gal. 6:2
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) was a lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who led the nationalist movement against British rule in India. In 1893, while in India, Gandhi was hired as a lawyer in South Africa for one year. Upon arrival in South Africa, Gandhi was appalled by the discrimination and racial segregation he experienced at the hands of white British and Boer authorities. Gandhi conducted mass non-violent civil disobedience protests in South Africa in response to the government's discriminatory policies. He stayed in South Africa for 20 years before returning to India.
Rev. Joseph J. Doke, pastor of the Central Baptist Church in Johannesburg, became close friends with Gandhi after hearing about his justice work. The two men met on New Year's Day 1908. Doke said he was there because Jesus had taught him it was his duty to lighten the load of those who suffer (cf. Gal.6:2). Gandhi remembered Doke saying, "I cannot remain untouched and indifferent to the cry of a people."
When Rev. Joseph Doke died in August 1912, Gandhi wrote a moving tribute to him. Gandhi described Doke's faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ, even to the point of attempting to convert him. He said that Doke never gave up, never missing an opportunity to share with Gandhi the faith that had brought him such peace.
Doke, a local from South Africa, reached out to help the Indian migrants in South Africa by befriending Gandhi. Gandhi and Doke demonstrated how two people could work together to expose oppression and confront injustice despite religious and cultural differences. Doke did not compromise his spirituality by befriending Gandhi. On the contrary, his friendship with the Hindu leader gave Doke the privilege of sharing Christ. It was their friendship that made this possible.
Jesus commands us to love. We are called to love others with the same kind of love with which God has loved us ( cf. Jn. 13:34), and to treat others with the same detailed care we treat ourselves (cf. Mt. 22:39). Love epitomizes the divine will for human beings.
By engaging with our others with the love of God, we are actually building relationships them so that we may be the bridge that leads them to Jesus. We build natural, human friendships that grow over time, and allowing the Spirit of God to guide us when we engage in evangelism conversations. It may take few months or a few years for that to come up. The point is that we should let our friendships be natural. If Christ is our life, then those who get near us will know it and will want to hear about your relationship with Christ.
Thank you, Lord, that you love me despite all of my faults and issues. Lord, I ask that you help me to love my neighbors with that same kind of love that you extend towards me. Lord help me to see my neighbors through your eyes. Show me practical ways that I can help them, and through that help, then be able to show them the love of Jesus. Help me to put aside my agenda Lord to simply love them, to meet them where they are and to love them as You love them.
In Jesus' name, I pray,