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Let Go of the Burdens of the World.

I have grown up a Christian, so I have heard almost every judgement that my religion stirs up in other people. In my first few years at secondary school I was very aware that being a Christian was not the cool thing to be (I was fortunate enough to have Christian friends who made not being cool okay), at college I became aware that a lot of my peers associated being a Christian with restricting rules that they didn't want to inflict on themselves, when I was at work I was teased for following some of those rules that I valued within my faith being called boring or a prude for having what I had considered dignity and integrity, at work and university I found out that I apparently don't "look like a Christian" (whatever that means).

The world has a lot of ideas about what it means to be a Christian and not all of them are positive.

And yet, being a Christian is the best decision I ever made. Deciding every day to walk with Christ and follow His plan is the reason I smile almost constantly. It breaks my heart every time someone finds out I'm a Christian and their response is one of condolences. So the message of my blog this week is my response to everyone who considers being a Christian to be a bad thing.

The world we live in is a tough place, we face pressures everyday: burdens to look a certain way, to own a certain new thing, to have a certain level of education, to have a job that pays a certain amount of money, to have several expensive and exotic holidays a year, to own your own car, to own your own house...the list goes on. In my personal experience, I have found that some of the greatest pressures and burdens put on young people today are also some of the most damaging habits. Society tells teenagers that they should have plump lips and thin thighs like the celebrities, and get drunk every weekend with your mates, and have sex with whoever you like whenever you like, and take illegal drugs because you're only young once - these habits are dangerous, and yet when I didn't conform to them I was (and still am) considered odd and different and boring and prudish by those who don't know me well enough to have an opinion. I don't conform to the expectations the world has of a 20 year old university student and according to some worldly views that's a problem. And the judgements I face because of those worldly opinions, are some of the burdens that I have carried throughout the past 5 years of my life. But the reason I am glad I don't conform, the reason I can be so open about my differences here on a public forum, the reason I feel no shame when I announce that I don't do the things listed above, is because I don't carry those burdens anymore.

Jesus says "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30) "come to who are...burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11: 28).

Jesus says give me the burdens of the world that weigh you down, give me the problems and the pressures. Yoke yourself to me and I will lead you in a way of life that does not have those burdens - a way of life that offers you rest!

How many times a day do you think to yourself: 'gosh I'm exhausted'. And it's not from excessive manual labour, or a strenuous exercise regime - it's from maintaining a certain appearance for too long. It's exhausting to conform to the ways of the world, and it is exhausting to carry the burdens that go with that. The opinions and burdens of the world, offer you stress, anxiety, pressure and upset - which are completely draining. But Jesus wants to share your burdens and offer you rest!

In Jesus I find my peace, in Jesus a weight is lifted from my shoulders, in Jesus I feel like I belong without having to try, in Jesus I have a family and a home, in Jesus I find my smile.

Jesus says "come to me ALL you who are weary...and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28) - He doesn't care if you have the latest iPhone, He doesn't care if you are fashionable, He doesn't care if you're attractive, He doesn't care if you're rich, He doesn't care if you have a fabulous career, He doesn't care how often you drink alcohol, He doesn't care what illegal drugs you have or haven't tried, He doesn't care whether you conform to the world or not - He loves you as you are and when you come to him he will give you peace and rest.

The opinion of the world so often is that being a Christian is a restriction on my life but the opposite is true: being a Christian let's me be who I am without judgement or pressure or burden.

How many of you wish for freedom from prejudice, or freedom from unnecessary burdens, or freedom from pressures to appear a certain way and live a certain way?! What Jesus offers, and what being a Christian offers, is freedom not restriction. Being a Christian means that I am loved unconditionally by God almighty, without meeting any requirements for coolness and without having to try to fit in. Being a Christian means that I can be happy and free from worldly burdens.

You see, all the people who have judged me for the Christian lifestyle I choose to live, they don't understand. My Christian lifestyle isn't restricting and boring, it's freeing and exciting! It is the pressure to conform to the world that is restricting and boring and exhausting. Also, in my non-conforming to the burdens the world has placed on me and my generation specifically, I have never been unhappy because I chose not to join in: not getting drunk has never been a disappointment to me, not looking a certain way has never left me without friends, not having sex has never hurt me, not owning the latest technology has never left me feeling lost. I live a full and happy life as a Christian and not conforming to the burdens the world wants to place on me. The smile on my face every day is evidence that the burdens of the world are worthless and pointless - I would gain nothing from conforming to them. But, I gain everything from my relationship with Christ.

Come to Jesus, give the worldly burdens you are carrying to him, and rest with joy in your heart and a smile on your face.

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