Lean on Me…

Ben Schoettel   -  


“Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on… For it won’t be long, till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on…”

-Bill Withers

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this same way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

-Apostle Paul (Galatians 6:2)

Our focus this week is looking at what it looks like to Embrace Community as the Church, the Body of Christ. The passages we looked at in Acts (2:42-47, 4:32-35) are quite clear. The irony is that there are many passages in the Bible that the Church is armed and ready to use as a weapon to attack the “evils” of the world. Some of those passages are not nearly as clear as what we see here in Acts. The Church’s principles and practices are laid out right in front of our eyes. But many times, our lenses have been fogged up by our Western individualism (in the culture and in the Church) so we lose sight of how powerfully the Holy Spirit can work in the Body of Christ when we embrace true unity.

What does the Holy Spirit do when this unity takes place? Later in Galatians 6 we are told that when we sow to please the Spirit (when our interactions are led by the Spirit) that the “reaping” is eternal life. We have seen over and over that this type of sowing only happens when we are open to cultivating relationships and growing a Christ-centered community.

We are going to look at Embodying Mission next week, but I hope we can all see by now how this is all tying together. Our faith is first rooted in our encountering and embracing of the one, true God, who is love. That is the first step. The step we then take is realizing what these verses in Galatians tell us, and what the church in Acts lives out, that the way we show God love in return is the same ways we were shown love through Jesus. When Jesus summarized the law for the religious leaders, he summarized them all with the greatest commandment to fully love God and love others. We then see Paul write that carrying one another’s burdens is fulfilling the law of Christ. That “law of Christ” is the summary that Jesus spoke. How do we know this? Because that is exactly how Jesus spent His time on Earth. Carrying our burdens. Carrying our burdens all the way to the cross.

So, when we think on this idea of “Embracing Community”, try not to let our understanding of community be shaped by all the incomplete, often individualized versions of community. We aren’t called to set the table of community for superficial relationships, selfish agendas, or passive endorsements. We are also not called to set the table of community to give people a polished ideal for them to look up to, or an alternative universe for them to escape one’s reality. We are called to set the table (and then sit at that same table) of community for us to be vulnerable, confess, mourn, and even question, together. Then it is at that point we can truly bear one another’s burdens (love) and then through our relationships and the centering of Jesus in our times and spaces, we can again taste and see that the Lord is good.

This might mean that we need to adjust our expectations of others, expectations of ourselves, and even expectations of the Church. But artificial relationships will only produce artificial fruits. And in a society that is starving for authentic, Christ-centered community, only the real fruit will do. We will look closer at harvesting that fruit next week.