By Chris Jackson
In the last couple of years, I have thought a great deal about community. I had not experienced true Godly community most of my Christian walk. I’m not sure if I missed it or if I just didn’t give it much thought, but I sure didn’t experience it as I believe God desires.
It is said that the first church loved each other so much that they would sell their possessions just to meet a need. I use to miss the heart of this act of kindness. I would get hung up on the selling of possessions. I sure didn’t want to sell my house on one hand, but on the other hand, I would gladly write a modest check to aid someone in need.
In the church and in society it has gotten really easy to write a check. It is harder to give of ourselves.
In the time of the early church physical needs were often the direst needs of people’s lives. Many did not know if they would even receive daily bread and a minor medical condition today would be life-threatening then. Much different today, even most of our poorest have plenty to eat. I’m not trying to make light of someone going through financial troubles or sickness, I’ve been there. But in my worst of financial struggles, I never worried about missing a meal. And when I am sick…I go to the doctor.
The heart of the early church was a love so deep that people were not afraid to express their need for help. Why? Because there was a love so deep that said, ‘no matter the cost, I want to help you!’
As I ponder, I believe this is why we miss Godly community today.
First, our needs today are primarily emotional and spiritual.
Worry, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and addictions are our biggest needs. But, for whatever reason, we don’t feel safe enough or maybe humble enough to express these needs. We’d rather show our strengths, not our weaknesses. Sadly, we want to keep these needs secret, which makes our problems even worse. Most of our church prayer lists are evidence of this. It is hard for us to ask for prayer for ourselves. After all, there are so many with greater needs than me. Or so we believe.
Then, on the other hand, our lives are either so fast-paced or we’re too self-absorbed to recognize needs.
Or maybe, dare I say, we’re too judgmental? Maybe we are too quick to look down a self-righteous nose to care about someone’s needs….after all, it’s their own fault that got them in that condition anyway. If they would just, <fill in the blank with some pious statement> they would be ok. We don’t love enough. If I’m honest, I have fallen into the latter category more often than I’d like to admit.
But, by the grace of God, I am learning and getting better. I have a group of guys, and we are slowly learning to show our weaknesses.
We are finding that through our weaknesses we have strength.
One of my friends recently had surgery. During his recuperation, he was confined to his house for a couple weeks. You can imagine how tough it is when you are used to being on the go. One day he reached out. In the conversation, he confessed that he was lonely and needed some company. He was concerned that he had talked with his dog for so long, his dog was starting to answer back!
That day some of our friends had already sent a group text to see who was available for lunch. I asked why don’t we grab some pizza and go eat lunch at our friend’s house. One-by-one the text came back…”I’m in!”
We descend on our friend’s house. We ate pizza, talked and laughed. He showed us pictures of his MRI. None of us have medical backgrounds so we do what guys do….“that doesn’t look like your <blank> that looks like <blank>.” You know how guys are! From there we started watching funny YouTube videos. We even hid one guy’s keys. We laughed like a group of middle schoolers! If laughter is good medicine we all got a dose that day! What a great way to finish out our work week.
I didn’t give this experience much thought until my walk this morning. God showed me that through this very simple experience we had loved one another!
I thought about how much courage it took for my friend to raise his hand and say ‘I have a need.’
He felt safe in raising his hand and we were quick to come running. He would have done the same, probably quicker!
I served in church leadership for a long time. This was much different than the many ‘sick visits’ I have made in the past where I would walk in the house somber, have prayer and leave. We didn’t have prayer, thinking back I’m not even sure we blessed the food! But, I believe God was honored. I think He was pleased because a guy had a need and his friends cut a hole in a roof and lowered him down to meet his need.
May we all learn to love each other so much that we’ll share our needs no matter the cost!
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