“Brothers don’t shake hands…Brothers gotta hug!”

The title I have used today is a quote from one of my favorite Chris Farley movies: “Tommy Boy”.   In it he discovers (falsely so) that he has a brother and so he is ecstatic to welcome him into the family.  The film is a little crude at times, yet Chris Farley had a way of hamming it up for cameras which made him extremely funny.

Do you know what’s not funny in this world though?  Brothers and sisters in Christ facing discouragement and frustrations alone in life.  Why does this happen?  Isn’t the Body of Christ supposed to uplift and encourage?  Where are the helping hands at times to come along those who are suffering through various blights of discouragement?

Paul puts it rather plainly for the early church and for us still today when he says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) 

Why then, in times of despair, does it seem as if some are trudging through it alone?

Do you remember the story of the paralytic who wanted to be healed by Jesus?  How did he get to Jesus?  He certainly didn’t walk there.  No, instead his friends took the time to care for him.  They took the time to pick him up on his mat and take him to Jesus.  In fact they had to go to great lengths to place their friend at the feet of Jesus.  When they got to where Jesus was teaching they discovered that the house was full of people, there was absolutely no room for them to carry him in on his mat.  So instead of calling it quits or abandoning their friend they instead devised a shrewd plan.  The hefted him, laboriously up onto the owner’s roof and tore a hole in it so that they could lower him down to Jesus.  (Mark 2:4)  What friends!   They took the time to encourage and lift (literally) their friend to Jesus.

What of us today?  Do we take the time to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Or are we too preoccupied with our own worries and our own busy schedules?  These friends who lowered their paralyzed colleague down through a roof could have called it quits once they found the house to be too full of people.  They could have shrugged their shoulders and said, “well we tried” and carried him back home with no change in his living situation…yet they didn’t.  They took time out of their busy schedules.  They went the extra mile.  They weren’t interested in what they could get out of the situation.  It wasn’t about them, it was about their friend, their brother on the mat who couldn’t move.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is sometimes a danger of becoming too comfortable in our lives that we lose focus on others around us.  Others who could use some encouragement.  Others who need to hear a word of love and kindness from their peers.  We can’t afford to be little isolated islands or clusters of Church goers who never engage and connect with other parts of the body of Christ!

The poet John Donne once wrote:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 

Today, there are fellow Christ-followers who need your support.  Today there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are about to give up because they feel all alone with no one to support them.  Today is another shining opportunity to be a brother or a sister to the discouraged and distraught.  You can be a source of encouragement.  You don’t need to be a professional counselor or a degreed Psychologist to help, you just need to be present and available.

Are you willing?  Are you available?  Ask the Lord for guidance and discernment and then get involved in the lives of other believers which will extend far beyond the pew on Sundays.  Give them a hug, love on them and then allow God’s fellowship of love to penetrate your hearts so that self isn’t number one but Christ is first and others are even before our own wants and needs.

-Just a thought for today.

and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith...” 1 Thessalonians 3:2

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