“I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” ~2 Corinthians 11:28-29
Scripture puts before us, unashamedly and unapologetically, the great challenge of living together in community. The Gospel message of salvation from Christ Jesus is a message that breaks down all the barriers between God and man and between man and man. It’s a holy reconciliation that draws all people to God and to one another. It’s a common experience in a common Savior around a common table that unites us to God and to one another.
And we live it together in relationships. We live into it together in community.
Paul claims to identify so closely with his brothers and sisters in Christ that he hurts with them when they hurt. It really bothers him. When a brother is led away into sin, it tears him up inside. He can’t stand it. And he’s compelled to do something about it, not because he cares about himself or the reflection it may have on him as a teacher, but because he loves these people so very much. He lives and dies daily with and for his church family. He rejoices with those who rejoice and mourns with those who mourn. He’s truly invested in these people. Paul’s committed to them so much that their individual ups and downs impact him physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
How bothered are you to hear that a sister in Christ has been taken to the emergency room? Bothered enough to call? Bothered enough to visit? How upset are you to learn that a brother in Christ has lost his job? Upset enough to send a card? Upset enough to send a check? How concerned are you to find out a member of your church has left the Lord and is living in rejection of God’s grace? Concerned enough to take him to lunch? Concerned enough to talk to him all night on his back porch?
These kinds of relationships with and feelings for one another are not built during the Sunday morning worship hour. Those kinds of things — the “for real” things between us — occur on Sunday nights at IHOP and in our living rooms and kitchens. It happens in the Legacy quilting room on Monday mornings and in hospital rooms on Thursday nights. Relationships are built during Tuesday Bible studies and at the movies on Friday. Christian community happens at the Senior banquet in May and the campouts and retreats in July and the football games in the fall.
It takes time. It takes energy. It takes a dedication to something bigger and more important than self. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s not necessarily fun. But all the time, living in deep Christian relationship with one another is the divine will of our God.