Saturday, June 30, 2018

Being There

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how Christians treat each other which I wrote about earlier this week (here).    My interest has been spurred partly by being back on Twitter after a two year hiatus—no comment necessary. 
But it’s also because of the teaching we get at our church.    Our pastor,  who was also the founding pastor of our 24 year old church,  has been going through Corinthians.  Recently he stated, if someone were to have asked him early in his ministry what was the most important thing Christians ought to be doing in the church his answer would have been something like serving.   Today, however, his answer would be that Christians ought to be treating each other well.
Nothing shouts hypocrisy to the world more effectively than Christians tearing each other apart.    But the opposite is equally true, as Christ said the world  would know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another.
This was beautifully illustrated for me this week in an email I received from a dear friend. 
Our elderly friends whom we've known for more than 40 years, are in their 80’s now and live in another state.   Mary Kay has always been a doctrinally keen and generous woman who reminds me of a cross between Dorcas and Priscilla.  
 They have been going through deep waters the past year as her husband battles cancer, dementia, and a stroke, while she herself also has health problems.   In spite of it all, Mary Kay still makes time to prepare meals for the sick. 
Ever the meticulous gardener, my sweet friend has been unable to maintain their yard.  Last week 60 people from their church showed up with tools in hand and food for everyone.   From young children to older adults, they worked all day pulling weeds, tilling dirt, and planting flowers until the place looked beautiful again.   
Our friends  were moved to tears by this display of Christ's love through His people.   
When James said, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”, the context was directly related to helping brothers and sisters in Christ in need.   This wasn’t a statement about “social justice”.   It was about the body of Christ sacrificially serving one  another in the bond of unity.
Dave Furman writes about the importance of being there when our fellow Christians are hurting.
“All too often we just want to help with what we can easily give up—a little money here, a little time there.  At the end of the day, all we’ve really done is made ourselves feel better, haven’t we?   We’ve done our good Samaritan deed for the day or the week, and we feel okay.   For many of us, it’s easier to write out a check for a starving child halfway around the world than to share the burden of our neighbor who talks too much or irritates us.  That distant child makes a slight dent in my checkbook, but my fellow church member interferes with my sleep, my time, my routine, and my calendar.   If we think we love someone on the other side of the world but we can’t be bothered with the image bearers right in front of us, we’re deluding ourselves.” 1
Having sound doctrine is fine and dandy, but unless it produces both a love for God and His people that is made evident by our actions, it really won't be worth much. 

 1 Being There;  How to Love Those Who Are Hurting;  Dave Furman; Crossway; 2016; pg 137

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