Summary: This messages encourages others to see the needs of others. People will never meet the needs of others if they refuse to acknowledge the need, accept people where they are, and then act to minister to those who are hurting.
WITH THOSE WHO ARE HURTING
A. One of the deepest desires, deepest needs of every human heart is the desire for community
ILL> Consider for a moment the top rated television shows for the last 3 decades.
1970’s - Brady Bunch
Here’s the story of a lovely lady
1980’s - Cheers
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name They’re always glad you came.
1990’s - Friends
I’ll be there for you.
1. Why were these shows so popular?
a. What do they have in common?
b. I believe that they reason they were so successful is because they showed people connecting with people
2. Everybody wants to belong
a. Everyone wants to love and be loved
b. Everybody wants to be accepted–to fit in
"Without friendships, no one would choose to live, even if he had every other good thing in life."
B. The idea of community was an important part of the early church–one of the reasons I believe that the Church grew so rapidly
1. The Bible sometimes refers to this as fellowship–caring for the needs of one another
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. All the believers were together and had everything in common.
b. They shared with one another
Cared for each other
Provided for one another
c. Because of this the most popular term in the Bible when Christians referred to one another was "brother"
d. We are family.
2. This idea of community is portrayed in the story I want to look at this morning
a. READ: Mark 2:1-12
I> ACKNOWLEDGE THE NEEDS OF OTHERS
A. Community requires that you acknowledge the needs of others
1. We need to have our eyes opened
a. We need to pray that God would gives us eyes to see
2. You will never meet a need that you refuse to see
B. It would have been easy to miss this man
ILL> It’s kind of like that spot on the carpet. At first, it just makes you sick. After a few weeks, you quit thinking of ways to remove it. After a few months, you wish it weren’t there. After a few years, you don’t even see it any more.
1. I think that this guy had been out in the streets begging so often that he was hardly even noticed by those walking by
2. The ancient world was very harsh to those who had physical problems
a. In those days there were no respite homes and government programs to help the disabled and the poor
The Greeks regularly disposed of newborn infants with physical anomalies
In Rome, during the 5th century BC, there was actually a statue on the boos: Quickly kill a deformed child.
b. It would have been easy to just walk by and never notice the man who was begging for a few coins
3. The odds of him developing some close friendships were against him
a. Even in our day, people who wrestle with physical challenges often say that the most difficult obstacles they face are the attitudes of the so-called "normal people"
b. If we find out that someone is going through a difficult time in their life–a breakup of a relationship or whatever–there is part of us that wants to reach out, but oftentimes there is another part that doesn’t want to be uncomfortable so we stay away
c. I hate to admit it, but I still struggle at times with those feelings
ILL> First church that I served there was a fellow who had battled cancer for years. He had been through several surgeries and treatments. When we moved in he said, "I’m only suppose to lift 5 pounds, but I’m here to do what I can."
I didn’t minister to him or his family very well. I made a couple of visits, but it was easier to stay away.
d. You see, it’s easier to ignore someone that is hurting that it is to minister to those who are hurting
e. It’s uncomfortable at times to reach out to someone that is down and out
4. It requires that you look beyond your own needs, see beyond you own wants and desires and take notice of the needs of those around you
a. Philip. 2:4
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
ILL> The All Better Book
They asked elementary school children what they would do to solve some of the world’s problems, things like pollution, the ozone layer, etc.
One of the questions they asked was this: "With billions of people in the world, someone should be able to figure out a system where no one is lonely. What do you suggest?