The interdependence of human beings makes it necessary to bear each other’s burdens, says the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation.
In his New Year message issued on Wednesday, the Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko appealed to the Lutheran communion to reject the popular "do-it-yourself" approach to life and challenged the tendency of nations to aspire for security within their own borders.
He called on Christians to reflect on Apostle Paul’s calling to churches to bear one another’s burdens in order to fulfill the law of Christ.
While the world attaches a high price to independence and self-reliance, Paul stresses the interdependence that characterizes God’s kingdom.
"In this context, burdens are never borne in isolation, but rather in mutuality, as we are an integral part of the one body of Christ. Paul maintains that the law of Christ makes foolish the wisdom of this world, which sees independence as a strength and dependency as a weakness,” he said.
According to Noko, a society shaped by the values of God’s kingdom would be rid of such injustices as slavery and human trafficking.
Recognition of the interdependence of human beings would, he added, “also imply that one cannot throw bombs at another without destroying oneself.”
“Similarly, denying any human being access to basic rights such as food, shelter and a life in dignity would find no place in the kingdom of God,” he said.
Noko appealed to Lutherans to dedicate themselves to healing wounds that have their roots in unshared burdens, and encouraged them to build bridges across visible and invisible lines of division.
"Our burdens, however heavy, are bearable in the community of Christ," he highlighted. "The church, family, community, nation and world in which we live should be places in which we find the strength and solidarity to bear each other’s burdens. The Church — ecclesia — is called into being to act with justice and in service to others."
He concluded, “As Christ’s disciples, we are called again to love our neighbors as ourselves.”