Wednesday, March 07, 2007
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."Galatians 5:2
So, about a year ago, I shared with one of my friends here at PTS, that I wanted to come away with some real relationships, true friendships, because when we left here, I knew that ministry was at least to some degree going to be a lonely place. The exact quote may be lost to history... At the time, there was a crew of us that got together weekly for what one of my friends dubbed "table fellowship," which involved a lot more "table" and not nearly as much fellowship. We'd play a game together which would slowly see the dozen or more of us whittled down to two or three. It's kinda hard to have a lot of fellowship when people keep leaving the conversation. Anyway, I was interested in coming away with relationships not just game skills.
That conversation, in part, lead to two things: one was a great friendship that I've developed with that guy and two was joining a prayer group with some other guys, who like to be a little more anonymous - especially when being linked to me. But I think I can safely say that with two plus months to go before graduation, and slightly longer before they boot us out of our swank digs at CRW, I believe I've cultivated some of those real relationships - true friendships.
Now, the question is, how do I really know that? The answer for me has been found this week in a couple of encounters, which reflect that passage in Galatians. In our modern/hyper-modern/post-modern society we often get the message that when we face a problem we need to grab ourselves by our bootstraps and pull ourselves up. Afterall, we're really just a bunch of individuals attempting to differentiate ourselves from the masses, wandering through our "journey" of a life, trying to become self-actualized. In order to do this of course we need to keep ourselves hidden, to a degree, because if anyone knew who we truly were, not only would it pose problems for us achieveing our goals, we would also be rejected.
But, our identity as Christians, our call to each other, is far different from that and it flies in the face of this individual mentality. We are actually called to share our burdens with each other, to share our struggles with each other. But not only to share as in open ourselves up to be vulnerable, but on the other end, to receive from someone else, to take their troubles up and help them, to walk along side them, to carry their load with them. As the Hollies said "He ain't heavy, he's my brother". Sometimes this takes the form of compassionate empathy, sometimes wise counsel, other times a healthy rebuke (I received a good one last night). But in all of them there is the need for two people to be honest and open enough to share and listen, give and receive. These are the kind of relationships we need to cultivate - not simply in seminary, but throughout our lives as Christians. In this way, we live out what Christ taught, we bear witness that we are new creations, called into a new type of community, empowered by the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the crucified and risen Christ.
Now, before I end, I should make at least a small remark about the picture I have included. I could not find a picture of all of my friends here at PTS - guys don't seem to do the picture thing all that often, not to mention "group" photos. So this picture (taken at Brennan's 1st Birthday party) of some of my friends had to suffice. Now since all of them are seeking a call to be ordained upon graduation in a couple months, I won't share that their vices, which I have had the pleasure to "carry" with them, range from not putting down the toilet seat to chearing for the Mets, Gators and even NASCAR! That sure wouldn't help their pursuit of a call. I'll instead share that it has been both my great honour and deep pleasure to get to know these guys (again, not just these guys pictured) and I am very excited to see where God leads them to serve next year and I know that as we go our separate ways geographically, we will remain connected because we have built some true friendships...