I find it hard to ask for help. When I am in need or in over my head, I really struggle with imposing on others. I can’t pin point why that is. Pride? Am I too prideful to admit I need help? Perhaps, but I don’t think that’s entirely it. Self-depreciating? Do I not think that I’m worth someone’s time and effort? Again, perhaps, but I don’t think so. Is it just that I’m too darn humble? Unfortunately, probably not.
It is probably a variety of reasons that many struggle to share their vulnerabilities with others. Unfortunately, no one can help us if we don’t ever share that we have need. And the reverse is true! If you don’t know that a family member or friend is hurting or in need, then you can’t help them – and that breaks our heart when others are suffering in silence, or we could have helped had we only known. This is one small aspect of being part of a Christian community.
The Bible reveals that followers of Jesus are meant to be in community. It’s not optional. After all, the second greatest commandment –to love your neighbor– cannot be done alone. You cannot be a follower of Christ apart from the body of Christ (the people). But loving one another is actually really difficult. A 2018 North American family basically sticks to themselves and a few close friends. They may pop out to a Sunday service on Sunday, and maybe a Bible study on Wednesday, but then aside from those 2-6 hours, they typically hunker down with their family. This is all we know how to do because it’s all we’ve ever known. It’s easy, and really loving others is costly and difficult. To love others well, we need to invest time, emotion, energy, resources, and effort. We must sacrifice to love others well, yet we gladly do so. Not simply for our benefit, but for theirs.
When you are loving others in a loving community, you grow in your relationship to God. More importantly than that, the reverse is true. When others love you, they grow in their relationship with God. Paul says he is motivated to continue for the sake of encouraging others in their relationship with God, more than his own gain (Philippians 1:19-30). Typically we only do things if they benefit us. But just like Paul, we need to learn to love others because it helps them, not just if we reap immediate benefits (though there are many that you will inevitably reap the more that you love!). This helps us love when it is hard and costly. I want to be more like that.
If you also want to grow in love for others, consider how you can make time for people; Changing your habits and patterns to create space and time to be vulnerable with others. In Canada we are always super busy, so we must make taking time a priority. We must continue to grow in our understanding of what a deeply loving Christian community looks like. We must think beyond what we have experienced, and discover more meaningful ways to love those around us. This is how people will know we are followers of Jesus.