I remember my first time when I had a broken bone.
My first broken bone was my arm. In 6th grade, after climbing on a monkey bar attempting to be an Olympic athlete.
I jumped off the edge, wasn’t able to reach as I lost my balance and I slipped right off my finger tips from the bar and straight to the ground. As I was lying there I almost passed out because of the pain, I finally got up to bring myself up and I fell on the ground again. I attempted once more, same result. I looked at my arm and realized I broke my bone! My arm was in ninety-degree angle broken!
I finally gathered up myself and went to see the nurse at the nurses’ office at my middle school. “Excuse me, ma’am, I believe I broke my bone.” the response, “Well, I’m so sorry about that. Go ahead and lay down on the bed.” I don’t think she understood me. As I tried to explain once again, she shut me off and said, “Go to the bed right now Mr.!” I had no choice.
30 mins later, I woke up and approached the nurse with my arm that looked like a softball inside of it as it gotten worst and she immediately called my mother and we went to go see the doctor! I look back and I think, “Man, I could have sued that woman!”
Few lessons I’ve learned;
- What didn’t have to happen was she didn’t have to ignore me and act like nothing happened!
- What didn’t have to happen was that someone came to my face and said, “you asked for it Mr. dummy!”
- What didn’t have to happen was people around telling one another how foolish I was and never coming to a solution.
- What didn’t have to happen was someone came with a machete and say, “Let me fix that for you!” and chop my arm off!
What I really needed was someone who cared about me and grabbed me by my arm and took me to see a Doctor!
However, though I think as a church we often respond to broken suffering struggling believers this way.
- Church sees someone hurting and act like nothing happened and ignore and move on.
- Church comes to the person and say, “Life has consequences. Deal with it!”
- Church avoids the issue by going around people gossiping and say, “Did you hear what happened to that person?” and cause more division in the church
- Church awkwardly deals with the issue by excommunicating the person or goes and fires the staff as they don’t know how to deal with broken messy sinners.
What our broken brothers/sisters in Christ really need is someone who comes alongside and gently lead them to Christ! So, three things happen to saints.
1) We CONDEMN the living saints,
2) We WORSHIP the dead saints,
3) We SHOOT DOWN the fallen saints.
We see in the NT where Paul says it this way,
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1).
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be part of a community like that. That will be the least of place I will think of being part of! What if the church was a city of refuge and beacon of hope that people run to rather than run from for fear of criticism?
Here are two practical ways to respond to those who are suffering and going through a major loneliness
1. Lack of Living Life Together (Hospitality)
Today, with the technological advancement of social media driven society, if we don’t want to deal with someone we simply delete someone on our friend list, we log off our twitter account and move on with life. That doesn’t happen with real life people. If we don’t have empathy we mentally, “check-out” and go about our own lives, yet there’s the reality of suffrage of real people dealing with real struggle in their heart wounds of abandonment that crushes their souls.
Jesus could have wired the universe with stereo on Mars and woofers and tweeters on Jupiter, and the angel choir singing to us about the gospel. But instead “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn. 1:14)
2. Lack of Living with Empathy (Compassion)
Empathy is a natural consequence of compassion of Jesus Christ (Mt. 9) as we see Jesus was never divorced from his compassion. We look to Christ who was fully God yet fully man (hypostatic union)
We will begin to have a heart that is ruled by the peace of God. The world will begin to see the depth relationship where sympathy and empathy are reality
While harvest is plentiful, the workers are few (Mt. 9:37.) There has never been more a crucial moment such as now. The opportune time for gospel outreach to the broken, needy, and perishing sinners for Christ’s glory. In the midst of where darkness seems to overwhelm our society, it is the opportunity for the church to shine even brighter. When sin abounds, the gospel abounds even more (Rom. 5:20)
The problem with our churches is we want to do church and not live Christ. That is reality for churches today. We want to do church work, and not Christ work. This hurdle has shot the church in the leg and crippled and paralyzed the effectiveness in the gospel witnesses for the kingdom advancement.
Mark Dever the president of 9Marks ministry in his book Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus said it well,
“The motive for discipling others begins in the love of God and nothing less. He has loved us in Christ, and so we love him. And we do this in part by loving those he has placed around us.”
Discipleship is helping others follow Jesus. It’s doing them spiritual good. But to fill all that out, discipling is initiating a relationship in which you teach, correct, model, and love. It takes great humility.
If we are able to take our time for us to work together with a heart of submission and heart of compassion, then we are able to love one another.
Jonathan Hayashi, Ph.D.
Dr. Jonathan Hayashi has a B.A. of Pastoral Ministry, M.A. of Congregational Leadership, and a Doctor of Educational Ministry. He presently serves on the Executive Committee at Southwest Baptist University (Bolivar, MO) and on the Board of Trustees at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jonathan is a contributor for the bi-weekly journal, Pathway (Missouri Baptist Convention), and is the author of Ordinary Radicals: A Return to Christ-Centered Discipleship, as well as Making Lemonade: Turning Past Failures into Gospel Opportunities. Jonathan is a level II-certified biblical counselor with the ACBC. He and his wife, Kennedi, have four children: Kaede, Seiji, Anna, and Ren.