As children of the living God, redeemed and restored to a right relationship to the Father by and through Jesus Christ, we can boldly approach the throne anytime and have our petitions heard, for ourselves and on behalf of others, if we’ll just believe it and do it.
But we all also still need to be heard by those around us, to be known and loved, seen and heard, by the people in our lives that are important to us— by anyone for that matter. And, conversely, the ones who see and hear us, I mean really hear us, are the ones who become important to us.
The Father’s heart breaks for the broken people. Jesus’ heart aches for the lonely people. Jesus knows what it is like, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
What do you see when you look at people, if you even bother to look at them, many people don’t. It’s easier to get caught up in yourself, to ignore the people around you, to not see the people trying to survive another day, to not notice the hurting or destitute, the stressed and the burdened. It’s easier to look ahead, focus on the goal, bury your head in your phone or pretend you didn’t notice someone.
Everything, everyone, becomes background noise. Do you suppose we are background noise to the Father?
Millions and billions of prayers are being said every day, every moment, yet God hears them all. He even hears the things that are not directed to him as a prayer, he hears the anguish, he hears the laughter, he hears the sighs, he hears the groans, he even hears the silence of a vacant, “I just can’t take anymore” stare.
And what do we hear? Noise—‘I just need peace let me be, I can’t deal with your issues, I don’t need this, I have my own problems—noise. That’s the natural response, that’s the survival mode—the flesh needs comfort and seeks a trouble free life, you are trouble so I am gone—selfishness of the flesh mode. And we embrace it, even as a church. “Just come and be taken care of by the professionals and someday when you are healthy and whole we will allow you to help other people.”
I mean, surely Jesus—who experienced the pain of rejection, who knows the anguish of being forsaken, of being unheard in his darkest hours, a man of sorrows and grief—surely Jesus is okay with us just dwelling in our own little comfortable safe space worlds where the blessings flow and my cries for more healing and more breakthroughs are always heard.
No, Jesus is not okay with you withdrawing into your little pity party turned, bless me in this safe space, world. Yes, we need to come to him for healing, yes we need a safe place, that’s why they call the big room in the church a sanctuary, but the whole point of his healing, the whole point of his hearing your cries, of setting you free and giving you the strength to go on is so that you can be his eyes and ears, his hands and feet, so that you can share what you have received with others, so that you can see people, hear people, even and especially the people you do not want to hear.
Here’s a kingdom dynamic that turns the typical church modus operandi upside down, if you want to get healthy, if you want to grow, if you want to feel the love and joy of a life in Christ, you have to look past yourself and give it all away to others. Remember; God uses the things that are not to nullify the things that are. (1 Cor 1:28) The average church leader would require level of perceived perfection and training before they were encouraged to reach out to others with the Love of Christ but the scriptures make no such demands.
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Gal 6:1-3
Bear one another’s burdens. That isn’t a suggestion, that isn’t an option to take or leave or a mandate just for the pastors, that is the law of Christ. I hope that rocks your boat a little; “the law of Christ?” that’s what it says.
We think of Jesus as abolishing the law, that is not the case, Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it—which he did— and he asks us to live in that fulfillment. That law being as he said, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and a new command he added, to love your neighbor as yourself. If you do that, he said, you are keeping all the law. So what is the law of Christ? To love our neighbor, and how do we do that, how do we flesh that out— not just say it but do it? We bear one another’s burdens.
When? When we are worthy, trained and feeling good about where we are in the Lord? No, right now, not when we have deceived ourselves into thinking we are something, but now even while we are weak, while we feel we have no right to judge or look down on anyone so that we can do it in gentleness fully aware of our own weaknesses, causing us to lean on the Lord to deliver us from temptation so that we can lead the way, bringing the hurting and ensnared to freedom. Leading those from the flames even while we still smell like smoke ourselves.
No one is more passionate about helping the hurting than the one who’s tears are still drying from their cheeks.