by Jennifer Slattery
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 NASB
I don’t want the love I give to be based on convenience, but honestly, this is my greatest battle. It’s relentless and persistent, and unfortunately, there are times I concede. Because of pride, insecurity, distraction … and a fierce hold on my comfort level. I give of my time and my money, my energy … but only so much. To love deeper, I need to sit. Sit with my Savior, the One who floods my soul with everything good and right and lovely. And I need to sit in other people’s pain, so that it becomes my own.
Years ago, I watched a profound video that halted my thoughts and convicted my soul. In it, a man was advocating for orphans he’d encountered personally while visiting a developing country. Seeing them face-to-face as they scrounged through garbage cans, those children, once statistics easily forgotten, became real. And in that moment, God asked Him how he’d respond if the child digging through trash were his child. Then God told him the child was His—God’s.
I have to pause there. I know I can’t take on every wrong, but I can speak love and hope to those God brings near. Through grace and truth-filled actions, I can introduce them to my Savior. Even if that means actively tearing through the barriers that keep them from Him.
I can follow the example of the men who carried a paralytic—perhaps a friend or family member—to Christ. Scripture doesn’t tell us how far they’d traveled, whether a mile or ten. This was during a time when paralytics were often considered cursed by God, and likely to be abandoned by friends. Therefore, most of them suffered not only the loss of mobility, but the loss of community as well. I imagine the loneliness hurt most.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case with the paralytic in our story. His friends stood by him. They (literally) walked beside him as well. Even if that meant pushing through a throng of desperate people, embracing the stigma of associating with a paralytic, and potentially angering the religious elite—those with the power to expel people from their faith community (John 12:42). The Bible says everyone “gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door …” (Mark 2:2 NIV).
Pause to envision the scene. Envision these men standing on the outskirts, surveying the crowd. Place yourself in that position for a moment, not only needing to push through but to push through with someone our culture might stigmatize.
Who is that person for you? The one our society keeps on the fringe, ignores, and even disdains?
Had you been those men, how might you have responded?
Would you have hung back, telling yourself all the reasons Jesus didn’t have time for your friend?
That’s not what these men did. “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on” (Mark 2:2-4 NIV).
That’d be the equivalent of someone removing your window to crawl inside your house. Polite, civilized people just don’t do that sort of thing.
But those desperate to see their loved ones encounter Christ do.
The result? Verse 5 states, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
When Jesus saw their faith. Sit on that phrase in light of this passage. Their faith propelled these men into action. They knew their friend needed Jesus and couldn’t reach Him on his own, so they stepped into the gap. The broke through the barriers keeping the paralytic from life, and they received precisely what they longed for and more.
Reading this, I have to ask myself—who does God want me to step into the gap for, and what might that look like? What “roof” might I need to unhinge or “crowd” might I need to push through? More importantly, will I? Or will I stand on the fringe, waiting for an easy opening, one that fits my schedule or comfort level?
Each day, each encounter, my choice.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites. In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.
Join the conversation: What about you? Who might God be asking you to bring to Him? Will you?