There is a saying in German: Würde bringt Bürde which translates into dignity brings burden. Generally it is understood that a role brings responsibility, work and also burden. What is true for a role is also true for us as human beings. The bible says that God gives man dignity because man is made in the image of God.
My Dignity, my Burden
Dignity is granted to me by God. This means my value does not hinge on how I feel, how I perform, how useful I am and also not how others think about me.
Nevertheless I receive with my dignity also a burden. I receive responsibility. I like how this is worded in the shorter Westminster Catechism: What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. My responsibility is to live in ways that God is glorified and with it comes a fulfilled live.
The Other’s Dignity and the Other’s Burden
If I am granted dignity from God then others receive the same. It can easily be seen how I live this out: how do I treat widows, orphans, the poor and the foreigner, to say it with the categories often used in the bible. How do I treat the weak in society? In Europe this is presently probably most highlighted in the whole discussion about refugees. Actually it is not only highlighted in the discussion but in our daily actions or non-actions.
God’s Dignity, God’s Burden
Because I am made in God’s image God has a high claim on me. But as much as this is my burden it is also God’s burden. I look at my life and I look at my fellow human beings and I often do not find much dignified living out of God’s claim towards us. And that is exactly God’s burden. That’s why Christmas came? That’s why Good Friday came! That’s why Easter came! God became man in Jesus Christ. He took my burden, he took our burden upon himself and has given us dignity once again.
Let us be aware of this as we walk through this time of Lent and approach Easter where everything changed dramatically through the resurrection of Christ when burden became dignity once more!
With you, glorifying God and enjoying him forever
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