It is a beautiful fact about humanity that most of us – regardless of our creeds, beliefs or personalities – try to help when we see someone who is suffering. It is a basic tenet of our being; we want to help. For all the evil and corruption in our world, people still help one another when things go wrong.
I would be very surprised if you, when reading that, didn’t have some memory of such a selfless act come to mind. In all things, from war to disease to just the hardships of life, humanity longs to help one another. Granted, it may sometimes take time, but people do help.
There is one particular event that comes to mind for me; I was waiting for a train at Charing Cross station fairly late at night sometime earlier this year. When the train finally arrived, i jumped on, sat down and turned my mind to other things. A few moments later an old lady tried to get onto the train, but slipped, cutting her leg quite badly on the ledge of the carriage. It took those of us on the train a few minutes to realise what had happened but, when we did, something like dozen of us jumped up, got off the train, and started tending to this lady, making sure she was comfortable and that the emergency services got to her quickly. My jacket became her blanket for that time. Another woman’s backpack became her pillow.
The driver kept the train still; none of us were going anywhere until she was cared for, and none of us cared that the train was delayed because of it. People who came up to the front carriage in a huff to ask why we were stationary took one look at what happened and – suddenly – all their annoyance was gone.
Some of her blood stained my jacket, but I didn’t mind in the slightest; it kept her warm, and that was all that mattered. We stayed until the emergency services took her to hospital, get back onto the train and continued our journeys as if nothing had happened.
We were all absolute strangers, and we all helped for no other reason than she was suffering, and we were there at the time.
Beneath all the cruelties of our world, humanity is still – at its heart – noble. Try as we might to erase that image of God in ourselves through all our sin and evil, that image is can never fully be erased. Much like God – whom the bible shows as constantly coming to the aid of those who suffer – humanity often does likewise.
This presents a wonderful and inspiring challenge to Christians; how do we care, love and help better? How do we show what we believe more clearly in a sea of already compassionate people?
How does the church practice what it preaches?
In the New Testament is a letter the apostle Paul wrote to a deeply troubled church; the issues dealt with in his first letter to the Corinthian church shows a church divided along theological lines , apathetic about serious sin committed amongst them by unrepentant church members , and hugely unbalanced in what it cares and doesn’t care about; he rebuked this church for letting the poorer members starve whilst the rich got drunk at communion !
Amongst the church’s many problems that Paul deals with in this letter, we find this;
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit…If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 & 26 (ESV)
If you hurt your hand, what does the rest of your body do? Running on the assumption that everyone reading is a human being, I’d reckon the rest of your body would ache, wince, try and protect the damaged part of you. Our bodies, though made of many parts, limbs and systems, are one body.
The church is exactly the same. When one part of the body of Christ gets hurt, the rest aches, winces, and tries to protect the damaged part so that it can heal.
Friends, when people around you suffer, don’t be slow in helping them. As brothers and sisters in Christ – as arms and hands and limbs of the same Body – we need to show our love, not from a distance, but immediately, unreservedly, and tenderly.
How does this love look like practically? In some cases, people just need someone who will be there to listen, someone they can share what they are going through honestly without any dismissive ‘it’ll all be ok’ replies; sometimes people need to just get their feelings and thoughts off of their chests and, as Christians, we are called to bear one another’s burdens .
Sometimes, people need comforting words, gentle reassurance and so on. Sometimes – if the suffering was brought on by an action of their own – some people might need some stronger words; if it was sin that brought their suffering on, then it is our duty to confront them  – not out of spite – but out of love and concern for them.
But above all else, we must always, always pray, both with and for those who suffer, and lift this person to God in prayer. Whatever we do, they must know they are loved, and cared for, and that those who make up the church want nothing but the best for them; we love them because God loves us , and called us to love one another .
So I pray that, from now on, when we see any member of our churches suffer, that we suffer with them, and do as Christ called us to do and serve them. For how can the world know us by our love  if we do not love each other?
- Part 2 (Well, Part 3 if I’m Honest!) So what is eternal security then? (onwardswearychristian.wordpress.com)
- 05 Administering Church Membership (sabbathsermons.com)
- It Begins And Ends With Jesus (pastorpaulvbsblog.blogspot.com)
- What is the Church? Part 1: How do we define ‘Church’? (onwardswearychristian.wordpress.com)