Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus… (Hebrews 12:1-2)
What does it mean to be human? At the very least it means having both soul and body; both reason and passions. I have often used an example with which I am well acquainted to illustrate this point. When I am tired physically, I also find myself more susceptible to temptation spiritually. But I forget that this also works the other way around. Sins of the heart also affect the body. King David expressed this sort of thing when he penned,
2Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
In the life of the Christian, unconfessed sin is like a hot, sticky day in the South. It drains the energy and vitality right out of us. When I embrace foolishness, wisdom fades. When my eyes lust, my vision blurs. When I grab hold of the world, it should not surprise me that I grow weary under the weight.
And yet, I am surprised! I am surprised because the object of my temptation is just a cloud, a mist, a shadow, an image. It is a dream, a thought, an idea, a desire. There is no true weightiness to it. There is nothing of lasting substance in it. And yet it becomes the greatest weight in the world upon my soul. It is like being crushed under a handful of bubbles. The lightness of sin becomes a suffocating heaviness.
Righteousness has the opposite effect. Truth is solid. Glory is weighty. Grace is an ocean. There are no shadows here. When you hold it in your hand it holds its form. There’s nothing squishy and gooey about it. It does not slip through your fingers or float away at the slightest gust of air. In fact, the reality of God and His world is too much for us. A grain of sand should be our undoing. Yet, in Christ, this indescribable weight becomes a burden-lifter. Obedience brings liberty. Submission brings liberation. Death brings life. To come under the weight of glory is to be lifted up on the wings of eagles. The heaviness of holiness becomes soft grass beneath our feet.
Our Lord reminds us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30)
God did not create us as souls and at the last minute decide to throw together some flesh and bones to keep those souls from spilling out all over the place. Our souls were made to find expression through the body and our bodies were made to respond to our souls. And both were made to find their fullest identity and satisfaction in Christ Jesus.