Living Life Together is Hard, These 3 Things Can Help You Right Now!
This past weekend I was privileged to share God’s Word and blessing at a wedding. They’re young and they are really just in the beginning of what it means to live life together. There will be ups and downs and all sorts of in-betweens and we will continue to pray for God’s guidance on their marriage and that they keep Jesus at the center of all that they do because…
living life together well is not something we always do, it is a challenge, but we desire it and want it. (As I’m writing this my children are fighting in the next room and my wife is trying to intervene.) Whether it be in our families, church family, communities and especially we think about living life together well in our country this fourth of July weekend where once again it seems like we are a country that is deeply divided and does not care well for those that disagree with us.
Sometimes this struggle comes across very clearly when demonstrators from Westboro Baptist Church (know that this group has no affiliation with the Baptist, Christians, or even the Christian Church despite what their name says) protested outside of the Funerals for victims in the Orlando shooting with hate filled signs claiming God sent the shooter. Ironically, it was people dressed as angels that blocked the protestors.
When Pastor Paul wrote this letter in our meditation today to the Christian church in Galatia they were not living well together either.
Brothers if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
We first hear about Paul traveling through Galatia, preaching and teaching on his first visit in Acts 16.6: “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region.” During his first visit Paul was very sick, but it was said that the people in Galatia received him “as an angel of God.” About five years after the establishment of the Galatian Church there were Jewish teachers who came to Galatia teaching the opposite of the freedom and salvation that is found in Jesus Christ that Paul preached to them. This caused division and fighting among the Christians there and prompted Paul to write this letter today.
In living together in all of the different situations that we do, Paul places the emphasis first on how we as Christians react to the people around us. Though this context that Paul is writing in is for the church setting, it is not exclusive to relationships in the church, we see that when he says “let us do good to everyone.”Do good to everyone by…
- Living well together well during conflict
- Living well together by bearing one another’s burdens
- Living well together by rightly recognizing who we are
1. Living Life Together Well During Conflict
Starting off Paul uses the phrase “caught in transgression” and I’m pretty sure when we hear that what we hear in our mind is a big transgression like caught in adultery or stealing money, something major. It can mean that, but the word for transgression, παράπτωμα also has the sense of a slip-up, unconscious mistake or something not done deliberately. When someone did something that they didn’t realize would hurt you, that kind of idea. When this happens Paul calls us to restore in a spirit of gentleness. When an offense occurs, whether large or small it does damage to and rips the fabric of the relationship and restoring means to sew and patch, knit together the damage done.
Notice though, in this sense the damage is still done, even when sown together the end product is different than if the damage had never occurred in the first place. This tells us that restoring and mending relationships does not always mean that they are in the same way as they were before. Sometimes a relationship is stronger because both people took the time and effort to stitch it back up together again, sometimes there is only one person doing the sewing and then all you can do is sew together what you are responsible for, you can’t force the other person to sew with you, and sometimes the new garment looks completely different than when it first started, that’s when the definition of the relationship changes due to the damage caused.
2. Living Life Together Well By Bearing One another’s Burdens
Early in our marriage Shiloh decided she was going to knit me a sweater, with the cables and everything in this really nice slate grey color. This was her first try at doing anything like this and when I tried it on for sizing it was about 3 sizes to big, with no arms and a tight neck 🙂 She never did finish it and we had a good laugh about it. But for me it was no problem to bear the burden of the sweater she made for me, it was a joy to bear because she loves me. Bearing each other’s burdens, literally putting them on like a sweater and carrying the load with them for a while can often times be a joy when it is done in a loving relationship, especially when the sweater is heavy it needs a few people to lovingly carry it with you. When we bear this load it can look different in different situations: sometimes it can only be done in your private prayer life and sometimes it is listening quietly when someone just really needs to talk and sometimes it is simply being there when a presence is needed.
3. Living Together Well By Rightly Recognizing Who We Are
Finally, how you sew back together and put on the sweaters of those relationships depends a lot on the kind of clothing you are wearing. If your own clothing is too tight or too shiny or too distracting and you can’t see past yourself and get over yourself then you won’t be able to do what is necessary in a Christ-like manner for those relationships that are placed in your life. Rather, as Christians how we reckon ourselves is as wearing the clothes of Jesus Christ’s righteousness that he earned for us upon the cross and gives to us in faith. When you look down see that you are wearing the clothes that Jesus Christ gave to you freely, give to us when we were naked in our shame, that he washed with his own blood when we rolled them in the mud of our own sin and that he bought for us to wear forever when he paid the price on the cross.
When we see that what we are wearing is all that Jesus has given to us it doesn’t seem so hard a thing to put on some sweaters and do some sewing because of the love shown to us.
It can be hard living together, families, church family, communities and as a nation but Jesus Christ has already given all we need to live life together in a loving way wth each other because of the love given to us.