Summary: As a church, we are called to care for each other.
Building on a Community of Care
I am now working toward the day when communities of God’s people, ordinary Christians whose lives regularly intersect, will accomplish most of the good that we now depend on mental health professionals to provide. And they will do it by connecting with each other in ways that only the gospel makes possible.
Imagine what could happen if God were to place within His people intangible nutrients that had the power to both prevent and reverse soul disease and then told us to share those nutrients with each other in a special kind of intimate relating called connection. Imagine what could happen if that were true, if we believed it, and if we devoted ourselves to understanding what those nutrients were and how we could give them away.
1. Recognize the Source of Comfort
2. Receive Comfort from God
Ephesians 2:8,9 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
Only two things have the power to change the human soul: sin and grace, the power of Satan and the power of God. And God is infinitely more powerful. Nothing is stronger than grace. Satan doesn’t have any. God is defined by it.
1 Peter 5:6,7,10,11 - Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you…. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
3. Extend that Comfort to Others
We Must Recognize Our Value
Henri Nouwen tells a story of comfort he received while going through a dark time in his life.
During the most difficult period of my life, when I experienced great anguish and despair, he was there. Many times, he pulled my head to his chest and prayed for me without words but with a Spirit-filled silence that dispelled my demons of despair and made me rise up from his embrace with new vitality.
It may be that the best we can do is to give of the power of Christ, which resides in us.
John 17:22,23 - I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We must recognize the gifts, the power of God, and the potential that may lay dormant in us!
We Must Become Outward Focused
Phil 2:1-7 - If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
We Must Serve in Love
1 Peter 1:22 - Now you can have sincere love for each other as brothers and sisters because you were cleansed from your sins when you accepted the truth of the Good News. So see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts.
1 Corinthians 13:7,8 - Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
perseveres - to abide under, to bear up courageously” (under suffering)
Tony Campolo, professor of sociology at Eastern College, tells the story of his visit to Honolulu for a Christian Conference. On his first night there, he awoke sometime after three (a six hour time difference had confused his sleep pattern) and left the hotel in search of a place to get something to eat. Eventually he found a tiny coffee shop. He walked in and sat down. Here is his description of the events: