There’s a stigma going around many churches that, once you enter, you keep your problems to yourself. We put on our best clothing, paint our faces to look cheerful, or, at least, made up, and we keep to ourselves apart from some polite platitudes. It’s also popular to jeer the meet and greet times that some churches do: many self-proclaimed introverts especially harp on it, and others talk about how it makes them uncomfortable. Why? Why do we do this? What’s the purpose? The only thing I can think of is that the Wolf who desires the flock slaughtered and devoured has been whispering in our ears, keeping us from each other. The Church is the place to not be okay. The Flock is the place to not be sick, as the Shepherd is the one who can heal His downtrodden sheep. It is a place of healing, and we find such healing in Christ, but also in each other. I get that many people want to remain private. I also understand (more than most, perhaps) what it feels like to be betrayed and burned by people in the church community. Yet, when I examine the Scriptures, I can’t help but see how we’re supposed to cast our cares on Christ, and bear one another’s burdens. The Church is not supposed to be a weekly social club. It’s supposed to be the community of Christ that transcends the weekly meeting, transcends boundaries and borders, and is the global family of Christ who bears one another’s burdens. The Enemy wants to make us selfish, and so he keeps us prideful. And yes, it takes a great deal of pride to not lay your burdens on Christ and to keep your siblings in His precious name from helping you bear your troubles. Often, people ask “What can I do?” Here is what we can do: last week, when my wife found out about her father being in the hospital, 3 ladies entered the church just to hug, love, and pray on her. Since, church members (yes, even from other bodies) have asked what we need, and what they can do. They stop us in the street, or call, or text. THIS is what we can do! We don’t need to make meals (though sometimes it is helpful), we do need to pray, but we also need to meet the basic needs of the hurting in our community. We need to love on one another, and so we need to go out of our way for one another. Yet, I also say that we should not wait for a crisis before we do! The early believers in acts were DEVOTED to one another. They met daily, or as close to it as they could. This is how they knew to meet one another’s needs. I’ll be honest with you, I fail at this often. I keep to myself when I am not about “the Lord’s work,” and I often don’t put myself out there. This is not about me chiding anyone else, this is the Lord speaking to me as well. We need one another. We need to carry one another’s burdens. We need to be devoted to one another. As we love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, we also need to love our neighbor as ourselves. Acts 2:42-47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Galatians 6:1-10 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.