When I was little and listened to the sick list at church, no matter where we went, there was always someone who was “chronically ill.” All that meant to me was they were never at church. I couldn’t fathom an illness that never got any better, that gave you good days and bad days, that made you careful not to “overdo” because of the adverse effects that might have on you. Now I understand, and wish I didn’t.
I no longer have any social life--my doctor is my social life. I see more of him than any of my brothers and sisters in the Lord. I talk on the phone more to his office help than to church folks. I spend more hours sitting in his examining chair than I do in a pew. In fact, they ought to rent me a room there.
And I know this will take a toll on my spirituality. It becomes more and more difficult to keep a good attitude. While I certainly have more time to study, not having a current class to prepare to teach makes it less a priority and easy to put off, especially when reading is so difficult. Helping others is nearly impossible, especially when you don’t even know what’s going on with the brethren any more. So yes, my spirituality is suffering. I struggle to keep it every day. But the circumstances cannot be helped.
What I do not understand is people who do this to themselves on purpose: those who darken the meetinghouse door only enough to keep the elders and deacons off their backs, and leave while the last amen is still echoing down the hall; who never take advantage of the extra Bible studies held in homes, a safe place to ask questions without embarrassment and learn from those who have wisdom and experience in life; who avoid all the social gatherings of the church scheduled between the services, while regularly finding time to be with friends in the world, not to teach, but simply to socialize; who never have a Bible lesson prepared—that’s only for the children—who never attend a wedding or funeral so they can “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice,” those who are healthy enough to jog, to play tennis, to hunt or fish, to go to ball games and sit in the hot sun for hours cheering, but simply do not want more than they consider the bare minimum to get by as a Christian.
Here is the problem with that: there is no such thing as the bare minimum. If Satan can get you to believe that lie, he has sabotaged any chance you have to make it to Heaven. God expects us to give our all, no matter how much that may be; more for some, less for others, depending upon the circumstances of life. It is difficult enough when the minimum IS your maximum, but doing that to yourself on purpose will only make you miserable in both lives, this one and the one to come.
The early Christians understood that they were spiritual lifelines for each other; they would not let go for anyone or anything. They spent time together, strengthening one another from the beginning, and because of that they were able to withstand horrors we can only imagine. If you wait till the horror is upon you to reach out for that lifeline, it is probably too late.
And all that believed were together and had all things common…And day by day continuing steadfastly with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved, Acts 2:44,46,47.