St John's logo

What are their experiences?

Si Walker, 28th July 2018

Appointment in diary

They say that if we want to know a person, we ought to walk a mile in their shoes. What is it like as a Christian to have an alcoholic husband, wife or son or daughter? What might be the feelings as a single person returning to an empty house each night? Or to live with a chronic illness like osteoarthritis? If we aren't in that situation, the truth is that without careful study, we simply don't know.

As humans (and Christians) we are prone to make assumptions about others, which may be misinformed because we can't truly know their circumstances from our own life perspective. Whilst we must not shrug off ungodly behaviour in ourselves or other Christians, perhaps we should ask, what the reasons might be for a persons 'shortcomings' in our eyes. What complexities might be hidden from us that they have to live with? Maybe they got no sleep last night as the result of a profound problem or they live with constant pain management. In addition, the consequences of unkind assumptions could reflect badly upon us.

'I wondered why a person I knew was very quiet at times'

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged" (Matthew 7:1). For years I wondered why a person I knew was very quiet at times, and prone to be grumpy. Then I observed the pain that a loved one experienced from a chronic illness, at closer quarters and I felt more sympathy with what they had gone through. So while we don't want to encourage one another as Christians to go on being moody, I think there is some wisdom here for us.

So how do we overcome this in a community where we have lots of people living busy lives? I guess that being humble as a result of Christ's love for us as sinners, is key. As soon as I mention humility, I realise how far I have to go. I guess also, there is the need to live life together. If we just see each other once a week, or even once a month, that is not really sharing life. We get a one dimensional picture of each other and can jump to the wrong conclusions. The more we take time to understand others in the church family, the more we can see the pressures on others, and help 'bear each others burdens' (Galatians 6:2). The other combative measure, is to pray for those in the church family.

When we pray for them our heart is more likely to be knit together with theirs as David's was with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1) and less likely to write them off. I'm going to try and work on this in my own life as I try and live as part of church community, which is God's great community, that is called to be different in the world.