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  • Writer's pictureRalph Felzer

FAITH AND ITS FRIENDS

Updated: Apr 10


Photo by Natalie Pedigo on Unsplash


"Waybread" is food designed to strengthen travelers on a long journey.  This little weekly column is intended to offer reflections that will strengthen and encourage you in your own long journey in following Christ.


FAITH AND ITS FRIENDS

This column is always about encouragement, but that’s especially the case this week.  I've been struck by two things lately that have challenged me to think a little more deeply about the role we each play in each others’ lives.  And by encouragement here, I mean more than just cheerleading for each other.  The encouragement I have in mind is more about building each other up than cheering each other up.


The first truth that hit me is found in the gospel of Mark.  If you attend Grace, you know that we're coming to the end of our Sunday morning study of Mark–and what a ride that has been over the last year and a half!  My own personal devotions have recently taken me right back to the beginning of this short, powerful gospel, and I've been reminded again about Mark's short and simple, but at the same time, profound statement in chapter 1 verse 1:  "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  We may be just finishing Mark, but in another, deeper way, we've really only just begun.  This truly is just the beginning of the good news for us!


Shortly after this, in chapter two, you may remember the scene in which a group of friends bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus.  When they get to the house, though, it's so crowded that they can't find a way in, so they climb to the roof, cut an opening, and lower their friend into Jesus' presence.  Remember what Jesus' response is?  “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” How remarkable this is, don't you think?  He doesn't praise the friends for their commitment to their friend, and He doesn't even heal the paralytic right away.  No, He calls out the friends' faith and then extends forgiveness to the paralytic.  


This is the key–Jesus blesses others through us.  He sees our faith and blesses our friends.

The second thing I've been impressed by was our Prayer Service this past Saturday.  I love the faithfulness so many of you showed by coming out on a weekend when there was so much else going on–Good Friday the night before, family Easter celebrations to plan and prepare for the next day.  And yet so many of you still showed up!  It was wonderful, and inspiring.  But here's the thing:  even though the sickest among us couldn't be there, we all together, as the Body of Christ, found our own way to "cut a hole in the roof" and usher our friends into the presence of Christ!


If you are one of those sick people who couldn't be there in body on Saturday, it was a privilege to offer you and your needs to Jesus in that time.  I want you to know that the blessing of Christ, the favor of Christ, the healing power of Christ, yes even the forgiveness of Christ is available to you both right now as you read this, just as it was on Saturday when we lifted you and your needs to Him who sits on the Throne in the heavenly places.  Whether you feel it or not, those prayers are heard and answered in the love and favor of your Father in heaven.


Beyond that, if you're one of those who came and prayed, or even if you prayed from home watching on YouTube, know that Jesus Himself sees your faithfulness.  He sees the love and concern you have for your brothers and sisters in need, and He rejoices in that!

Remember: We all have our part to play in each others' growth and maturity.  As Paul says in Ephesians 4:13, we should serve one another "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."


The truth, friends, is that we need one another.  Jesus says that when we serve one another, it's truly Him that we are serving (Mt. 5:31-40).  I'm also reminded of Exodus 17 when Joshua leads the nation of Israel out to war with Amalek.  Joshua is fighting.  Moses is praying.  But neither alone is enough.  As Moses tires, "Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people…" (vv. 12b-13).  


The victory, as always, belongs to the Lord, but we also play our own role.  So, too, when we gather together in worship, in celebration, in prayer and want and need, in joy and in sorrow, we serve one another and do the Lord's work.


So way to go, Church!  As the week goes on and we enter more and more deeply into our celebration of the resurrection life Jesus lives in our midst, and as we move closer and closer to Pentecost, let us continue to remember, and pray for, and reach out to those among us who are weak or tired or sick or weary, for in doing so we are being what the Body of Christ is meant to be.


Be encouraged, friend, for God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, who spoke all worlds into being, is both with you and for you.


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