Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lean on Me

“Lean on Me” is a song that I always enjoyed immensely, until today.

Today I truly listened to what this song says, what this song teaches.

"Lean on Me" is of a shallow and selfish nature. Think about it. Lean on me, for now, eventually I'll need someone to lean on and then it will be time for you to repay me by letting me lean on you. What about the fact that this person is already weak and needy? What happens when this person does not become strong enough to allow the other person to lean on the weak one. Then both are weak and the first weak person must flee to keep from being crushed by the second weak person or the two fall together and are injured even more.

The love of Jesus is such that He says, "Lean on me, I will never let you down. Lean on me and I will hold you up forever and carry you through all of your trials and struggles. Lean on me, for I have taken your burdens for you and in turn, I give you my light burden and my easy yoke of the Gospel. Lean on me, lonely brother, lean on me now and forevermore. I will never be weak. I will never be selfish. I will never grow tired of holding you up. Lean on me, lonely brother. I will never abandon you. No matter how badly you fail, turn to me and lean on me. I am here for you, always. I am your friend, even when you forget me.”

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus is the friend who comes to us even before we call. He calls to us, calling us out of the darkness of our weakness and despair. He calls to us so that hearing Him our troubles fade from our hearts and minds as we hear the comforting words of His grace, mercy, and peace. He calls to us and we hear the promise of forgiveness and healing and life everlasting. These are the things that He carried into the world from heaven in His own body to exchange on the cross for our miserable condition. He took our burdens so that the burdens that He carried into the world for us would be made to be ours through the faith that He authors and perfects for us, through the yoke of the Gospel and Baptism, and through the burden of the eating and drinking of the Supper of forgiveness, renewal, and life.

It is in His body, as members of His body, that we, then, lift up one another and carry one another’s burdens.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)

“Bear ye one another’s burdens.” Of which burdens does the apostle speak? “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. ” Our faults, our sinful desires and actions, our selfish inaction and cravings, these are what bring us down. These are what we are to address as unbearable burdens and to carry for one another.

This the apostle explains more fully, saying:

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. (Galatians 6:3-5)

These burdens are truly unbearable, not only for the one who is brought low, but also by all of the rest of us poor sinners. We cannot bear even our own faults, so how can we bear the faults of one another?

This why St. Paul instructs that we approach one another in meekness to restore one another to be truly spiritual. In other words, we are to pick up our brethren in the Lord and carry them to the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, where the person is restored again to the likeness of God, free of the burdens of the sinfulness that we have inherited from Adam. We pick up our brethren and carry them to the Lord, who then takes their burdens from them and gives them the healing of heart, body, mind, and soul.

The Lord Jesus comes to us in the water in which we have been treading. We have been treading for a long time. Perhaps we even made for ourselves or purchased for ourselves a kind of floatation vest that over time has become tattered and is becoming water logged. We are about to go under the water for the last time as Jesus comes to us in the water and tells us that He has brought with Him something that will preserve us. He takes His own robe, His own skin, from His body, strips us of our devices, and covers us with His bloody robe of salvation. He assures us that this robe will keep us above the water. He further assures us that when the wind blows us to the shore and we walk up out of the water that this robe will protect us from the scorching sun (the attacks of the world) and from the freezing cold (the loneliness and rejection) and from the fiery darts (the temptations and trials) and from the flames (the despair and the hot passions and desires).

When we begin to imagine that this robe is too restraining and we take it off and then succumb to our faults again, our brethren meekly come to us and pick us up and bring us back to the water’s edge, where we confess our stupid rebellion and the Lord restores us by placing His robe of righteousness upon us again with the Holy Absolution. Then He raises us up and we humbly walk with hearts filled with thanksgiving and joy to partake of the Supper of the Lord’s Holy Communion, restored to the life that we share with our brethren in the Lord’s body.

So, brother, don’t lean on me, except to crawl with me back to the water’s edge to be restored by the one who is truly our friend, who gives Himself completely for us and to us. If you want to lean on me, you’ll have to fall to your knees to do so. You’ll have to join me in and with the same broken and contrite spirit that I have. So, please brother, do call me and lean on me, for you then will find yourself stooping down with the humbleness of spirit that leaves you with only one place to fix your gaze, upward to the one who was raised up for our salvation. Then together we will lean on Him and receive His strength and be carried through every trial and struggle unto the final day of salvation.

(By the way, I still like this song, only no longer immensely. I see its faults, but I still appreciate the fact that it causes me to think of my and your true friend, Jesus, on whom we truly may lean with complete confidence, and who continually calls to us bidding us to do so.)

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