Love Others

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Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2)

The verse for this week follows right on from the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: 22-23. Galatians 6 then is the practical outworking of the fruit of the Spirit that should be being developed in all those who follow Jesus.

The Covid situation has forced most of us into uncomfortable situations and changing circumstances that make it seem like the world is running out of control. We need to remember that God neither allowed nor created this virus to judge the world and improve our character. Having said that, it is quite clear that He is working in the lives of Christians around the world, to enable and equip them, to not only see victory but also to strengthen relationships.

As we progress through this Covid process, you may have noticed that each week things change. For a little while they started to ease up a bit and then as the new cases started to mount up the restrictions came back, bit by little bit making it harder for meaningful worship experiences. As Meryl has been sharing with us, this can feel a lot like a desert experience because we are cut off from the normal personal contact that we all need, to feel a part of our church family. It’s a similar feeling to being out in the desert, except that for many of us we don’t get the views, just the four walls of our homes. What do we do about it? We can either trust God and draw closer to Him in this time or we can withdraw and place ourselves in spiritual isolation as well as social isolation. I think that I am on safe ground when I suggest that the second option is a very bad choice.

Friends we all need each other. I am getting frustrated at my inability to get out and about to visit you at home, but right now all my time is being taken up with the seemingly endless responsibilities that go with leading a church through these increasingly regulated times. So what do I do? The good part is that I get to spend time with God as I seek His heart for us. I get to dig deeply into the scriptures as I prepare these devotionals and sermons. But that doesn’t mean that I have left you all to fend for yourselves. Far from it. In between meetings we have the chat room on Facebook Messenger. This is available 24/7 and many of our members are enjoying being able to chat with whoever is in the room at the time. This one thing has enabled us all to stay in touch with one another whenever we wish and wherever we happen to be located. I do not make many posts because it is essentially your chat room. I am the moderator, and I do keep track of what is going on and sometimes the repartee is priceless. This is also the means by which we make our group video calls on Monday morning prayer time and any other time we need to see each other as a group outside of church.

I guess one interesting thing that has happened is that we have all been in contact with people that we would have only had limited contact before Covid. Some of the newer people may not speak, dress, or behave in a way that some of us would have found acceptable before Covid brought us all together. Well guess what, this is the new normal and we love the joy and exuberance that these people are bringing into the life of the church. The new people are also on a steep learning curve. Most of them have not had any background in a traditional church that would have shaped and molded them into cookie cutter Christians. We love them just the way they are, and it is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to transform each one into the image of Jesus in whatever order or priority He sees fit.

Bob Gass has some wise words for all of us as we draw closer together.

If you want to be transformed from a victim into an overcomer, find someone mature enough to share your struggles with. When you do, you’ve taken a giant step towards releasing the past—instead of constantly reliving it. Thank God for those who’ve been able to live victoriously all their lives. But most of us haven’t. If we’re not careful, we can easily become judgmental. Don’t try to be super-spiritual in order to compensate for an embarrassing past. You can’t earn salvation—so don’t try. It’s a gift you receive by faith. (See Ephesians 2:8–9.)

Get rid of your embarrassment over wounded people. Yes, we’ve got them in the Church. Sometimes they fail, and we have to re-admit them to the hospital to be treated again. That’s what hospitals are for. And churches are spiritual hospitals. My struggle may not be yours, but don’t judge me while you’re wrestling with something equally as incriminating. Jesus was so different. Every time He saw a hurting person, He reached out and ministered to them. And you’ll never be more like Him than when you accept people as they are, refusing to give up on them because you know what God’s grace can do in their lives.”

I simply offer Paul’s last word in closing Galatians,

Galatians 6:18 (NKJV)

18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Ask God to give you a greater love for hurting people.[1]

[1] Bob Gass, A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 214.

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