Article 7 of our membership covenant says that we will commit to:
watch over one another in brotherly love, remember one another in prayer, aid one another in sickness and distress, eagerly pursue the empowering of the Spirit for service to one another, cultivate sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech, be slow to take offense and always ready for reconciliation as we are mindful of the command of our Savior to secure it without delay. (Matthew 5:23-24, John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, 1 Cor 12:1-12, Galatians 6;2, Galatians 6:10, James 5:16)
I am profoundly grateful to be part of a community that doesn’t just ascribe to these values on a piece of paper, but actually lives them out. This was in full display this past Monday as I got one of those text messages that rip a pastor’s heart out. A church member had just undergone a traumatic experience and was asking me to come over to pray. I hate getting those text messages. Don’t get me wrong, I feel profoundly privileged to be able to care for people in some of their deepest moments of sorrow. However, I hate experiencing fresh reminders that we live in a cursed world. Yet, here is what I was so grateful for in this text message:
One, this person was reaching out. They were being real, raw and vulnerable. Not wavering in their faith at all and yet also not trying to be pseudo spiritual and pretend that everything is ok. The Bible talks a lot about grief. There is a whole book called Lamentations, for goodness sake. Yet, so often Christians don’t know how to grieve. They feel guilty like sorrow is somehow a lack of faith, weakness or a sign of immaturity. That is far from the truth that the Bible teaches. It takes tremendous strength to be able to admit that we are weak and there is no guilt in experiencing grief. Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died, even though Jesus would then shortly raise Lazarus from the dead. His grief surely wasn’t a lack of faith. Talking to God about our grief is a sign of faith. Faith that God cares, wants to listen and sympathizes with us. (Heb 4:15)
Two, this person reached out, but not just to me. This person reached out to those they live in community with. As a pastor you expect to get brought into these things, but a healthy church is one where the pastor isn’t the only one ministering, but the congregants minister to one another. That’s what I experienced on Monday. I was so proud to see people wrap their arms around this hurting individual. I was so proud that they sat there and let this person pour out their heart. There were no quick, prepackaged, bible in a box answers. There was no coffee mug slogan, or slick sound bites offered. They just wept with those that were weeping (Romans 12:15), offered practical ways to help carry their burden (Gal 6:2) and prayed (James 5:13)
This is what we want to be about Christ Church. We want to be a real people who go through real things in real community with a real hope in our real Savior.
I am so grateful to be part of this community with you.
Grace and peace
- Pastor Jeff
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