If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1 Corinthians 12:26
Man oh man, how I love being a part of the body of Christ. The Lord's church is a beautiful thing with so many beautiful qualities. The church is a place where we can bring our deepest hurts and encourage one another when our burdens become a little too heavy to carry on our own. But there is one area in our churches that I would like to focus on. I believe that we need more compassion for their hurting. As a whole, our churches do a pretty good job at showing love and compassion to the sick, hurting and struggling people of the world outside of our congregations. But I think we should open our eyes a little more and take a look at the people in our very own pews.
No matter the size of the building, the name on the outside, or the amount of people in your congregation, it is guaranteed that people are hurting. You may not see it, but they are there. Often times as Christians, we like to mask our hurt behind our smiles and pretend to live this happy go lucky life when in reality, some struggle to even get out bed in the morning. But, we throw on our smiles and happy faces, even if there are some days that while we're trying to reach lost souls, deep down, we may be feeling a little lost too.
I know that it's our job as the church to lead lost souls to Christ. What about the Christians who have already been brought to Christ but feel a little lost too? Maybe they feel lost because of a recent tragedy that's struck in their lives. Maybe they're struggling with things inside their hearts and never have the courage to share. Maybe they simply feel lost. Do we put them on the back burner and not make them a priority because we assume they'll be okay? In my heart, sometimes I think we do. Unintentionally of course. At times, I feel that we don't think we should worry about other Christians. I think we sometimes put the thought into our minds that as long as they know the steps of salvation and keep themselves in church and continue to live right, they are or will be okay.
If you're reading this, I want you to think about a few things. Think about the congregation you attend. I want you to think about the young couples in your church. Now think about the families that walk in together every Sunday. Now think about the teenagers. Think about the young widows or the recently separated spouses. Now think about the young college students. Think about your brothers and sisters of Christ that you share a congregation or a church pew with for just a few seconds. Do you ever look at their eyes and see a sense of hurt or struggle? Or do you just pass them by because you get in the routine of a hug and a handshake and look beyond their hurting heart? Or maybe you feel that you know the people around you well enough that you think they'll reach out if they need you. Maybe you think about these people every time you walk in those front doors. Maybe they never cross your mind at all. Well friends, maybe they should.
"The church is not a museum for the good people, but a hospital for the broken."
Sometimes the Christians in our church pews are hurting beyond belief and just don't talk about it. Do you realize how many people in our congregations of all ages are struggling with anxiety and/or depression? Addictions? Shame? Guilt? Do you realize how many of the Christian in our lives that we know and love struggle every day with feeling like they aren't good enough? Do we realize that the person in the pew beside us is worshiping with their whole heart and soaking in every word that the preacher says is also sitting there with their hearts tangled up in a mess struggling to understand God's grace and forgiveness? Even when we do, I just don't think we want to talk about it. I think we have this fear of being judged and rejected by other Christians not realizing that they are struggling with things too. We fear that if we share the deepest and darkest of parts of ourselves, we'll lose the love of the ones around us. The Lord's church is a place where we should be able to let down the walls of our hearts and share our deepest pains and heartaches, but oftentimes, we don't. I think we need to hammer the thought into our hearts that the body of Christ is for broken people. Broken people with broken hearts and broken thoughts. The Lord's church is a place where we are meant to be uplifted and encouraged. A place where we shouldn't feel the need to hide our heavy hearts and messy lives.
Friends, let's open our eyes a little more.
Let's open our eyes and realize that the brothers and sisters beside of us are struggling and hurting. When you notice someone in your congregation that has a sense of sadness in their eyes, don't just ignore it. If they try and brush you off, offer an encouraging word or let them know you're here for them. If someone crosses your mind, let them know you're thinking of them. If you love someone, let them know they're loved.
Our relationships in The Lord's church are a beautiful thing. I think it's time we start taking advantage of them.