We have spent the first half of our series ‘Side by Side’ acknowledging that life is difficult, our hearts are busy, that sin weighs us down and keeps us from living life well, and that we need to call out to God and one another for help. We are needy. The second half of our series is an acknowledgement that although we are needy, you and I are still needed. We are needed because we have the Spirit of God within us. We will look very practically at ways of walking together, of what it means to grieve with one another in times of grief, how we can live compassionately towards one another, how genuine Spirit-led help is often found in doing the very ordinary things and we will look at how we walk together as people vulnerable to sin. How should we talk about sin? How can we bring temptation into the open? What does it mean to be alert to the devices of our spiritual enemy?
This requires authentic relationship. Without a commitment to authentic relationships, relationships built on vulnerability and trust, we find ourselves either too quick to judge or to slow to engage. I’m conscious, in our day and age, where we find ourselves governed by this unspoken law that ‘problems are private,’ that vulnerability is divisive. For some it is liberating, freedom from the exhaustive task of trying to be or appear something other than what we truly are. For others it is deeply confronting. It is scary. It involves some degree of letting go. It is messy. It isn’t proper. “Vulnerability” can be a by-word for emotional vomit. And no one likes vomiting or being vomited on.
Which is why I love reading the gospels. It is a wonderful activity to read the gospels and to pay particular attention to the relationships that Jesus has with people. They are always authentic. In what ways does Jesus invite vulnerability? In what ways does he demonstrate it? How do people respond to Jesus’ authenticity?
We want to be a people who walk together. That is what Christ has called us to as his disciples when we respond to his call to “Follow me!” Whether you find being vulnerable easy or hard, let me encourage you as needy people who are needed, to trust that God will help you to be available to the Spirit’s transforming work. As we respond to the needs of others, we bring the transformation of Christ to bear into the circumstances of others. At the same time, we find our own hearts being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. We need this. It is yet another reason why we are most certainly ‘better together!’