One of the things God is teaching us in our Gospel Community Group is that we really need to deeply embody the Pauline metaphor of ‘the body’ in our thinking and practice. This concept that, because of the gospel, we are intimately inter-connected with one another.
One of the areas where this becomes most acutely obvious is in the area of burdens. If in our group we have people with personal burdens we’re no longer free to just ignore them and expect people to sort themselves out. Rather, in many ways, those burdens become our burdens and together we walk through them. That’s the implication of ‘the body’ metaphor right? Of course it is. Burn your arm on the iron (as I did a few days ago) and the whole body gets a sense of discomfort – you can’t detach the pain in your arm from the rest of the body. When parts of the body hurt the whole body hurts, when parts of the body are burdened the whole body is burdened.
Now excuse the pun but the very thought of this can seem daunting, tiring and burdensome as you think about your own Christian community and the thought of sharing burdens. It can be an exhausting thought. The strange thing however (and this is why I say God is teaching us) is that in our group we seem to be experiencing the opposite. As burdens are coming to the fore and we’re attempting to come around the people carrying them, we ourselves seem to be growing and being spiritually refreshed. We’ve still got a long way to go but even in the small tentative steps we’ve taken it feels as if God is meeting us and giving us the ability to step up to the plate. I must confess that it’s radically exciting to see God working this way.
Last night we meditated on, and discussed, John 14:15-31 where Jesus tells his disciples that if they love him them will obey what he commands. That passage can be burdensome on first reading. But you keep reading and find that God will send the Counsellor, the Spirit of Truth and as you keep reading it begins to dawn on you that God is essentially saying he will meet us and give us that ability to step to the plate so that in many ways we will obey Christ and love Christ. I guess that’s what it looks like to operate in a grace-driven faith.