Day: August 30, 2013

The Shepherd’s Staff – August 30, 2013

Posted on Updated on

ShepStaffIf you found yourself in an emergency situation, who would you call?  What if you fell into the middle of an intense emotional struggle…to whom would you go?  Suppose you got some fantastic news that thrilled you no end…again, with whom would you want to share it?  All of us should have those “go-to” people in our lives who want to know about our ups and downs, our joys and our sorrows.

The basic nature of our city has become that of an uprooted people, a people removed from the support structures that extended family used to provide for our parents and theirs before them.   The mobility of the culture has changed all that.  So where do we go to find counselors or cheerleaders as we need them?

One of the characteristics of an uprooted people is a developing spirit of independence and self-sufficiency.  Without that kind of attitude, we are afraid that we would be very susceptible to be hurt by the indifference of people around us.  Rather than risk new relationships that call on us to give as well as receive, we have a tendency to pull back and retreat into a subtle isolation in the midst of the crowds of people we pass every day.

This sadness can be found even in the church, a place that should be the very center of loving community and caring fellowship.  The sadness surrounds us when we find that in the midst of Bible-believing disciples of Jesus Christ, the same kind of indifference and isolation confronts us that we see in the non-Christian world around us.  That should never be!

People in churches know that they are supposed to express concern for one another.  Good intentions abound toward that very purpose.  But in the final analysis, we often do not really care enough to reach out to others in need because of the threat of inconvenience it might bring into our comfortable, self-sufficient worlds.

Obviously that reaction and response is not God’s design for His people!

Christians are to have the reputation and character of a people who are loving, selfless, giving.  That is only possible when we are willingly sold out to Jesus Christ and totally available to see the needs of others with His compassionate eyes.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ…As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:2, 10).

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

The burden for breaking out of the world’s mold of apathy and indifference is placed directly on you and me as followers of Christ.  Until we consider how to meet the relational needs of one another in more tangible ways, the love of Christ will not be shed abroad.  Our orthodox beliefs will be nothing more than intellectual affirmations–knowledge that puffs up but does not build up!

Large Group of Happy People standing together.

In an age of radical change and constant mobility, should we not expect the church to be that one place where people can find what Christ intends for it to be–a place filled with people who are looking for ways to engage with one another in living lives that matter!  Will we be the kind of people who break out of the mold and take to heart the call of Christ to express our faith with practical expressions of love for others?

Are the people you would call in times of trouble, confusion, joy–are they your fellow members in the body of Christ?  Are the people who openly and freely invite you to share life with them?  Are they the same folks who reach out, “especially to those who are of the household of faith” and call you friend?

We are the body of Christ and it is both our privilege and responsibility to live in and enjoy community together.  For many, the church is that for them.  But that is not so for many others.  What can you do?  Who can you embrace?  To whom will you go and issue a loving invitation to “do life” together?  We must not give up until all know what it is to love and be loved by Jesus Christ through people just like you and me!