You may be surprise at the thoughts that flash across the screen of your mind when hard times come along. It’s as if the person that you thought you were melted down and a new persona (which may not be new, but been laying low in your sub-consciousness; or perhaps it is new, and the present problem is the cause of its development) emerges forth. Bringing with it ideas and actions which would of never been thought or acted-out by the one who you ‘thought’ you were. These can range from thoughts that you are not worth anything to those of suicide (in extreme cases). It may feel as if the breath that is circulating through out your body is slowly being squeezed out of you, and no one cares or notice.
Unfortunately, there are many such incidents in our communities, homes, and churches that go un-noticed. Life has become so much about self-preservation that the ‘neighbor’ is treated as a stepping-stone (or a decoration that is placed along the road to your fame) and thus his/her struggles is view as his/her business; in other words, “who cares.” What has emerged from the capitalistic belly of the United States is a Christianity that has become unconcerned about the ‘neighbor.’
One may reason that it is impossible to know (as in acquaintance by experience) intimately every person that they come in contact with. That is understandable, but if “each one, reach one” (the origin of this quote escapes me) then our communities, homes, and churches will be better places. Not because there will be no crisis or difficult situations, but because the love and support from others will help those feel the sense of community and belonging that are expressed in these words, “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15, ESV ).
Simple words often present sophisticated imagery; and we see this in the scripture quoted above. It calls for sensitivity to the emotional health of one other than yourself. It doesn’t say that people should weep and rejoice when you do so, but it places you (us) in the seat of the one who is to do the action; the one who is to feel concerned. This is evident in the voice that the Greek words χαίρειν (rejoice) and κλαίειν (weep) are found. Both are in the ‘active voice,’ meaning that the subject of the verb is doing the action (Black, p. 12). Paul places the addressees in the position of doers.
This verse implies that a relationship must exist. We are not called to be there only when weeping is going on, but when a person is experiencing events that make them joyful. We can’t let people slip under the radar and drown in the complexities of life, we ought to be there (writer and readers). How many times have you and I let it happen?
In a world that calls for you to “get your fame on,” why not answer the higher calling in Jesus Christ and be a good neighbor—a good Samaritan. As “ambassadors for Jesus” (in the melody of the late and great theme song for Adventurers (smile)) let us strive to be the best representatives of His character as we can. We are not guaranteed to get it right all the time, but God sees the efforts that we will make and will bless it.
Christ did not establish a people that is insensitive to the conditions of others, but one that is concerned about the good times and the bad. Maybe for you, Paul’s words to the Romans, is a “hard saying.” Perhaps you need a moment of reflection to contemplate on the solemn duties of a Christian. Pray, then take a person and be the best representative of Jesus that you can be for them. They are out there and they need us to do something.
Black, D. A. (1994). Learn to Read New Testament Greek: Expanded Edition. Nashville, Tenessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers.