A small-statured elderly couple sat discussing where to go for lunch. Since it was only 9 am I knew they were experienced at waiting in this clinic. A young black woman in gray pants and white top, sported a huge bandage on one eye and was obviously nervous—she sat bouncing one leg almost uncontrollably. Another man, white haired and just as obviously not worried, dozed in his blue chair. A forty something woman, a new patient it looked like, sat hunched over, filling out one of those seemingly endless forms on a clipboard. A middle aged man in a gray fleece jacket wore the heavy dark glasses of a cataract patient. A stylish young Hispanic woman in a brown pantsuit and heels chattered on a cell phone. A sixty something woman in a gray coat sat reading a book, chuckling every few minutes. A young couple sat together, too quiet, holding a sleeping infant, and occasionally looking at one another with large frightened eyes. Something was wrong with their precious child and they were afraid of what it might be.
We were all there for the same reason—to see a man labeled a great physician by his own medical association. Each one of us had our own anxieties and our ways of dealing with them. None of us had any thought for the others at all. I think that may be the problem with some churches. None of the members have any idea of the problems the others are going through and they really don’t want to know either. Is that how we think the church is supposed to work?
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith, Rom 12:10,13,15,16; Gal 6:10.
We cannot fulfill those commandments without knowing one another. We cannot fulfill those commandments without taking down the privacy fences and sharing our problems with one another. We cannot fulfill those commandments without building a sense of trust in one another, a safe place where we know our problems will be held in confidence and not judged by self-righteous hypocrites.
We are all here to see the Great Physician. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all need him and the forgiveness and grace he offers. But one of the rules in his waiting room is, “In as much as you have done it to the least of these my brethren you have done it also to me,” Matt 25:40. If I want his help, I must offer it to others. If I want his help, I must not be too proud to accept it from others. If I want his help, I must join in with all who want his help, caring even more about them than I do myself. We cannot sit here ignoring one another, each in his own world, and expect to have our turn in his office. He will simply cancel the appointment.
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints, 1 Thes 3:12,13.