Friday, May 8, 2009

Being a Caring Church – Part 3

This is the next in a series of posts having to do with being a caring church.

4. Support System

Fourth, a caring church is a church with a system of loving support. Everybody needs a support system, but many people today don’t have one. Years ago, most women lived in the town where they were born. They had their mother, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and close friends to support them when they needed some help. Today, grandma is in Florida, mom is in Ohio, sis is in Texas, and the rest of the family is in California and Oregon– and you’re in Fishkill! You have a job, but aren’t close to anyone there – and you certainly have to be careful what you share at work, you know. You don’t know your neighbors very well, and you’ve got no close friends in the area.

The same thing happens with men – relatives and old buddies are scattered all over the place, and no close friends. There used to be Elks, VFW, American Legion, Masons, bowling, and poker night. But guys don’t do those things too much any more – those are all from a bygone era.

So the church can and should be the support system, one that is loving, caring, and non-judgmental. In addition, a church should anticipate needs, and plan strategies to deal with them when they arise. Needs can be spiritual, emotional, or material. A church’s support system is modeled on a God who cares for his people.

5. Lay Down Life

Fifth, a caring church is a church whose members are willing to lay down their lives for others. That one got my attention! It seems a little extreme, but as I read on, it really means to place others’ interests above your own. This can be summed up by what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:1-5:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus… NIV

Another way of putting it is that we as a body of believers are to practice self-sacrificing love. That doesn’t mean we become doormats or slaves, or that we become people-pleasers or enter into a co-dependent relationship. What it means is that we obey the command of Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself, depending on the Holy Spirit to guide us. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 4:10-12:

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. NRSV

Based on articles from Every Day with Jesus (Jan-Feb 2009), by Selwyn Hughes, CWR Ministries, Waverly Abbey House, Waverly Lane, Farnham, Surry GU9 8EP UK. © 2009 All rights reserved.

More on this topic of caring in a future post.

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