Paul says in Romans 12 that we should “weep with those who weep” but for most people that is not easy. I’ve heard people say after a tragedy, “I didn’t go visit him, because I didn’t know what to say.”
If you are a follower of Jesus – you can step into tragedy. I’ve seen it many times over the past 25 years during my adult life. We may not have the words of comfort to say because sometimes there are no words. But your presence and your tears when someone else is suffering communicate that the Lord does care about the pain we suffer.
A follower of Jesus does not run away and hide from the difficulties in this life. We don’t pretend that life is all wonderful all the time – no – there is a lot of pain in this world. We are called to walk into suffering with our brothers and sisters just like our saviour, Jesus.
Jesus who was called “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” in Isaiah 53.
Jesus who displayed his grief through tears when his friend Lazarus died.
Jesus who suffered separation from the Father – an emotional that you and I can only begin to imagine.
Jesus who suffered physical pain on the cross that was beyond belief.
He knows what it means to weep and if you walk in his footsteps – you will weep as well.
It is fairly easy to think about obeying this command. I can party with those who want to party. This summer we had a great time at my summer intern’s wedding – not much suffering there!
But do you ever have times when a friend is excited about something that you couldn’t care about? Chelsea won the Champions League – great, but so what?
How often do we actually get sad or angry when others are successful? You’re looking for a new job and that friend comes in and says, “Guess what – I got a new job and I wasn’t even looking for one!” You want to get married and your friend just gets engaged. You work hard for an B on the exam but your friend got an A*.
Rejoice when others rejoice – I don’t think so.
Rejoice with those who rejoice only comes by a work of the Spirit. Often, our natural response is to want others to be as miserable as we are.
Pray for the success of those around you. Then pray for your heart. Pray that you would truly “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
But there are sad times in our lives as well. That is for another post…
A portion of today’s sermon from Mark 8 preached at St. Michael’s in White City.
Mark 8:34-37: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
If you are going to follow Jesus – you’re going to have to do it HIS way. And the way of Jesus is one that runs counter to the world we live in. The way of Jesus may even be different from the way we think God should work. We want a life of ease – Jesus says we must deny ourselves. We want comfort – Jesus offers a cross. We want to live life the way that WE want to live our lives – Jesus says you can gain the whole world and still lose your soul.
What does this mean in our every day life? It means doing the washing up when I’d rather be watching TV. It means spending time with my elderly neighbor when I’m tired and rather be home by myself. It means loving my wife and children with the words that I say, even when they don’t deserve it.
Do I always do that? No way. I don’t think anyone in the world succeeds at always denying their own desires. We look out for number one. And yet Jesus says here – “If you want to be my disciple, you must deny yourself.” We have a problem.
But there is one who did completely deny himself. He fully denied himself and literally took up a cross. He literally lost his life so that you and I can have life if we are united with him by faith. Jesus starts his journey to Jerusalem where he will die an ugly death on the cross. It was not a path of adoring crowds cheering on their conquering hero but a path of suffering, pain and death but also a path which included the resurrection.
If you are going to be a follower of Jesus – it is a path of denying yourself and letting King Jesus take charge. It will not be easy, but let me assure you – it will bring you life in full. The good life now as God intended life to be lived with other human beings and the good life later because your sins are forgiven and you have peace with God.