There are many people in this world that carry with them an invisible backpack. They lug it around everywhere they go. It is a backpack of unacknowledged grief, of ignoring problems and difficulties. The problem is that over time items are added on top of old ones. Hard feeling after hard feeling gets caked on top of unresolved issues. When that happens, the backpack becomes our Master. It begins to influence the way we talk, what we do, and don’t do. It becomes sin because rather than Christ, the Spirit, and the Word informing and influencing what we say and do, the invisible backpack calls the shots.
When the Scripture talks about not offering ourselves to wickedness but offering ourselves to God (Romans 6:12-23), it means that we must take off the backpack because it has become our Master. We may have become so accustomed to it that we cannot imagine life without carrying it around. But we are to take it off, unpack each and every item we have stuffed into it, and allow ourselves to face the pain and hurt and take up Christ’s easy backpack, his yoke (Matthew 11:28-30). We are told that, since we are redeemed people, baptized into the death of Jesus Christ that we do not need to and ought not to carry a load of sin any longer (Romans 6:1-11).
We were actually meant to have a Master and to carry a backpack – just not the backpack of unconfessed sin and unresolved problems, but the backpack of righteousness which listens to and follows the Master, Jesus Christ. Who is your Master? Jesus Christ, by his grace, took the backpack of sin that you were carrying and took it upon himself. He took the crushing weight of our backpacks of sin for us. Jesus took out the stinky gym socks of sin and the half-eaten sandwiches of bitterness within; they were then nailed with him to the cross.
We must deliberately and intentionally take off that invisible backpack. Perhaps, like me, you have known people who were moral and ethical and well-respected; and, you never would have guessed that they carried such an invisible heavy load on their backs. The backpack as Master caused them to work themselves into the ground in order to keep ignoring the hurt, to keep everything completely clean and in control on the outside because on the inside it was emotional chaos. What appears on the outside may not be true of the inside. When we look at one another in the church, we cannot assume that just because everything looks good on the outside that the inside is just fine. Our stronghold of secrecy and invisibility needs to be broken and pulled down in Jesus’ name!
It is time to put off the backpack of sin and put on Christ’s righteousness. It is time to say the following statement with some flavor to it:
Ø “I will not carry you any longer, old Master, because I belong to God!”
The church must stop looking for either some dramatic deliverance or expecting others to change, and do the hard work of confession and offering/presenting ourselves to God:
Ø “I will not carry a load of immorality any longer because I belong to God.”
Ø “I will not carry an unresolved load of pain any longer so that I keep using my tongue to gossip and slander and backbite another, because my tongue is not my own. My tongue belongs to God.”
Ø “I will not be burdened by the clock and let it control my life, because my time is not my own. My time belongs to God and I will steward it wisely.”
Ø “I will not let the invisible backpack keep me in bed because my true Master desires me in prayer. My waking hours belong to God.”
Ø “I will not carry the troubles of my job with me by working myself into the ground, because my job belongs to God and my Master calls me to a Sabbath rest.”
Ø “I will unload this backpack of pain and deal with it so I do not keep compulsively spending my money, because my money belongs to God.”
Ø “The invisible backpack no longer has any power over me because I have unloaded it, grieved my hurts and losses, and have moved to taking on Christ’s backpack. I belong to Jesus Christ!”
Show me a miserable Christian, and I will show you a Christian who is carrying the crushing weight of an invisible backpack that informs and influences every decision and each action.
The church does not need an attitude adjustment or behavior modification; we need to do away with the backpack of sin completely because Christ has already taken care of it. To put that backpack of sin on is to do something that Jesus died to take away.
Who is your Master? Are you a slave to the invisible backpack? Or are you a slave to God and his righteousness? If you find that you want to change but seem unable to, it might be because you have a kind of spiritual Stockholm syndrome where you identify more with your captor who is oppressing you than with freedom in Jesus Christ.
Today, take the backpack off. Unpack it. Deal with the pain and the hurts you have accumulated but have not lamented over. There will be no spiritual growth and development apart from doing this. You cannot have Christ as your Master unless you get rid of all competing masters in your life first. What has the backpack every really done for you? What benefit do you receive from lugging it around everywhere? The wages of continually carrying the unconfessed load on your back is death – it will eventually catch up to you and you will die (Romans 6:23). But the gift of God is life, freedom from sin and a life under the new management of Jesus Christ. Take it off. Unload the contents. It may take a long time depending upon how long you have been carrying the weight. But there will not be freedom apart from it. You have been set free from all other Masters, and have become slaves to Christ. Do the hard work of dealing with the contents of your backpack so that you may know freedom, that others will no longer feel the tyranny of your backpack, and so that you will enter the life that is truly life.