Are You My Brother?
It is common to find that Christian believers are somewhat apathetic about the plight of those they meet simply due to the fact that their own lives are often filled with difficulty and turmoil. After all, when you smash your thumb with a hammer you’re not going to be thinking about anyone’s pain but your own.
So many Christians are hurting and under server attack both from without and within that the church as a whole lacks effectiveness. Unfortunately, we have been taught that we must put on a brave face and “believe” God anyway no mater how we feel. It has gotten so bad that sometimes Christians even commit suicide and people exclaim, “How could this be, they were such strong believers.” This only goes to show how disconnected we are from each other and that we do not know our brethren deeper than a surface acquaintance.
It is time that we start to wake up and truly become the Good Samaritan the scriptures speak about. It is not our pastor’s job to bear one another’s burdens but rather it is our responsibility to do so. To be a good neighbor means that we must become aware of the needs that are near us and then act as the Holy Spirit leads. Of course this means that we must become involved with others and enter into their difficulties when necessary. However, we do not have to do this alone for the Spirit of God within us will take over and minister to those in need if we will allow Him too.
Many times, through very heartbreaking experience, we have learned that it is not wise to rely upon our brethren in trying times because they suddenly disappear and are not available when we need them most. When people say they care but do not act accordingly in times of stress their words are not genuine but amount only to a kind of “surface caring” lacking real substance.
Likewise, when we hide ourselves from our brethren because we don’t trust them with our hearts we also rob them of a chance to minister to us and receive a blessing. Surface caring and mistrust combines together to hide what is really going on in the hearts of God’s children. This charade gives the false impression that things are better than they actually are. Often times those who really need help suffer silently while their brethren stand by, smile and say, “God bless you be at peace”.
I remember in Bible College I once felt very far away from God. Though I was learning all about the Bible the Devil was really beating me down with condemnation. On the outside, I looked as though I was the model of a young man of God who was studying hard to become a minister while all the time on the inside I was dying. No one said anything but you learned very quickly that when someone ask, “how are you brother” you were expected to reply, “praise God, I’m doing well!” If you ever dared tell the truth an awkward pause and Christian platitude would be muttered and the subject changed. Their was quite of bit of peer pressure to pretend all was well even if it was not. Finally, I could not keep up the pretense any longer and wrote a very plain letter to one of my Bible College teachers stating my difficulties and I held back nothing. That next day the teacher came up to me and said, “I think others may be going through the same thing you are, may I read this in noon chapel?” I hesitated but when he assured me he would not give my name I consented. You see, I was still afraid of having my brethren know my true state. As he read my letter describing how I felt so far away from God that I could hardly go on another day you could have heard a pin drop in that place of several hundred students. Afterwards, when the teacher asked those to stand who felt like the author of the letter literally everyone in the chapel stood for prayer, some even wept. To my surprise I was not alone in my sufferings although the Devil had done his best to make me believe so.
When we pretend that we are living the Christian life when in fact we are not. We perpetuate a lie that causes others around us to lie also. When you have many people pretending to be victorious when they are not they project a false image and make those who are struggling feel that much worse. Moreover, when the world, who have no reason for pretense, see that we are fake they despise us and also the God we say we serve.
I know of ministers who suffer terribly in silence because they cannot let on that they struggle just like others do. They have worked so hard to look like successful and happy believers they fear to let on that they are human just like the next person. Every so often we see ministers unexpectedly fall prey to sins that plague the common man and we react in utter amazement. We act so surprised when in reality it is partly our faults because we could not allow them to be mere mortals and seek help without fear of judgment from those they lead.
At some point we are going to have to stop pretending to be like Christ and start really being Christ like. Jesus was so real that He could eat with publicans and sinners not fearing that they would somehow taint His image or corrupt His soul. He cared deeply and spoke directly to the real issues of those who came to Him even when the truth was not pretty or expedient. The world does not take us seriously simply because we ourselves are not real but rather mere caricatures of what we imagine a good Christian should be like. Let us stop the insanity of pretending we are what the Bible says and start simply being the hand of God to our brethren so that they can really feel God’s love in their lives where they truly need it.
Finally, as it is written,
“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”