Yoga means “to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply. It also means union or communion. It is the true union of our will with the will of God.” (Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar)
Jesus’ says in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” There is that word…..YOKE. When a person decides to follow Jesus, they accept Jesus’ yoke then are bound to him. They take his teachings and apply them to their lives. Their goal is to commune with God through focusing their mind, body and spirit on the will of God.
When a group of people come together with this goal in mind, we call them the church. This community is then bound to each other through the common yoke of Jesus. This would be easy if each person had the same thirst for knowledge, the same desire to experience the divine, the same personality, and the same cultural background, but we know this is not the true picture of life in community. We find varying levels of commitment and desire.
For the minister, the important lesson to struggle with and learn from is to focus their mind, body and spirit on the will of God. When we strive for this, then we offer the talents, the message, the experience that God gifts us with to our people. If we must see success which I admit I have to find somewhere, then the success is the pure offering of the gift. How people receive the gift, if they like the gift, or if they apply the gift to their lives is not up to the minister for God will work in the lives of the people.
The minister must also accept and honor the varying levels of commitment in the church. The minister guides each person according to their level. I want to offer this idea as the idea relates to all the people who attend a yoga class. All are welcome into the experience of yoga and the teacher humbly acknowledges each person as beautiful and beneficial to the community. First, you have those that just want to get a great workout. They are solely focused on getting the body healthy and beautiful. This is a part of the Yoga Experience, but just the tip of the iceberg. Second, you have those who come to practice their postures. This level shows great commitment but at a shallow level. Third, you have those who have commitment to their postures, but also begin to grasp the idea that yoga is more than just about the body, but also brings peace to the mind and the emotions. Fourth, you have the person who accepts the yoga lifestyle and enters a mentor relationship in order to wade into deeper waters. The yoga teacher’s job is to offer a peak into the depths of the water to the class so that in each person’s own time they might one day come to seek a deeper level, but the teacher knows that few enter into mentorship.
Same can be said for people in our church community. We have people who show up because they were raised to come to church on Sunday. They know the importance of the church through the history of their family. We have some who come to church only because of the electric preaching style of the minster or the music of adoration. They love the feeling they have when they leave. Then, we have some who not only come to church on Sunday, but they join a small group to learn what following Jesus means Monday-Saturday in their work and family life. Lastly, we have people who embody the above and desire to enter the process of becoming a leader within the church.
What if ministers let go of the idea that we have to move everyone into the last category? What if we stopped beating ourselves up when our numbers in Sunday School are not high? What if we offer a sneak peak on Sunday morning and save our energy for the few who truly seek truth? Jesus said, “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” What if we stop wasting our energy on making the gate wider? What if we stopped forcing a mob of people onto a narrow road? What if we remember that is not our job anyway?
May we together learn to offer our best self, our God given gifts and then let it go.