Well, here is a sad truth: being a Christian in our cultural context is not popular anymore. I know it’s no big surprise, but someone needed to say it. The rejection of Jesus and persecution of those who are loyal to Him is quite real and, unfortunately, is growing swiftly. For centuries, we in the West have experienced a freedom of faith and religion that is, in numerous ways, unknown to many cultures. Yet, most Western believers never consider the ongoing suffering of Christians around the world as we should, and, at times, we neglect the hurt and suffering of believers in our local community.
We, as members of the Kingdom of God, are clearly instructed by those who have gone before us to “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” (Hebrews 13:3). This speaks to the experienced unity of true believers that is beyond our finite human comprehension. When instructing the local church in Corinth, Paul says, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
This speaks to our community’s healthy and loving Gospel culture more than we realize. Paul also tells the brothers and sisters in Rome to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) Whether our brothers or sisters in the local or global church rejoice or weep, we are to, as one faith community, come alongside and share in those moments together. When we rejoice with those whom God has blessed, we remember that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17). Together as a family, we praise God in the good times and the bad, for He is Lord of both.
So, here is the application for us today. Are we close enough in our relationships with others in the church family to share our sorrows and joys with one another? Do those community bonds have a healthy response to both? Are we able to rejoice together? Are we humble in heart enough to weep together? Can we “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ?” (Galatians 6:2) For fulfilling the law of Christ is to love one another fully. (John 13:34-35)