May 20, 2007

Devoting Ourselves to Fellowship

Galatians 6:1-10

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2


Years ago in a church that I served as pastor, a mother came to talk to me. She was struggling with the behavior of one of her teenage children. She came hoping to find someone to help her carry her burden. I failed her miserably. Several years later she came again and said, "I've been a member of this church for many years, but I'm pretty much all by myself. In all these years when I needed help, there has been nobody to talk to." As a church, we failed to provide the fellowship she needed.

A short time ago I visited a family that was going through a difficult time. They talked about their church as their extended family. Almost every day one of the members of their church was there for them, doing some act of kindness and carrying some of their burdens.

Two different pictures of the church: one looking like the early church, which was devoted to fellowship, and the other failing to recognize the needs of all its members. A vigorous church has to devote itself to the whole fellowship, determined to carry the burdens of everyone it encounters--within its membership and beyond.

We must learn to listen to those who need our help, encourage them where we can, and be on the alert to share their burdens. And people who have burdens too heavy to carry on their own must be willing to let others help them lighten the load.

Lord God, open our eyes to see the burdens of others, and move us to care and compassion, giving us insight and strength to help lighten people's loads. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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