I’m always struck by the story that Luke recounts in chapter 5 of his Gospel, the one that tells of some men who carried their friend to see Jesus. Who carried him until he could walk. We don’t know how far these men walked, how much dust their sandals kicked up, how loudly their muscles cried out for relief as they took step after step with their paralyzed friend hanging on a mat between them. What we do know is that they did it.
They picked up their friend and walked those steps he never could, walked those steps so that he someday would.
The Bible tells us that these men tried to get into the house where Jesus was teaching, but the crowds were too thick, the doorway too crowded. But these friends were not deterred. They lifted their paralyzed friend ever higher, up on top of the house. They pulled that roof apart tile by tile until they could lower him down and set him at the feet of Jesus.
I can imagine those friends looking down through the hole they had made, panting and hoping and waiting for Jesus to do something. I’m sure the paralyzed friend had his heart in his throat as he felt the hope that his friends had fanned into flame within him. And then I can hear Jesus’ words, the ones that Luke took care to record:
Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven. … Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home” (Luke 5:20,24, NLT).
This story is one that speaks of deep devotion, of loyalty and friendship and community that defies the odds. It’s a story that shows us that true community is a vessel that carries us, that picks us up when we can’t walk anymore, that gets us to the feet of hope, that scales the walls of our challenges and cuts holes in the things that are keeping the light out.
This is the kind of community we need. This is the kind of love for each other that moves the hand of God in our lives. We must be present enough in each other’s celebrations and sufferings, be willing to give of our energy and time and emotions for the friends in our lives. We must be consistent and devoted.
Let us foster the kind of community that is deep, that is strong, that carries burdens and hope alike, the kind of community that lands us heart in hand at the feet of Jesus, together.
- How has the MOPS community impacted your life?
- How can we ensure we are present in the lives of those in our community?
Kelsey Lasher (kelseylasherauthor.com)