It’s been about 18 years since I first stepped into this church. And it occurs
to me that the reason why I was initially comfortable in this church is the
same as one of the reasons why I left for a season. We don’t look out for
newcomers and jump on him/her trying to be welcoming. We don’t keep
track of members’ attendance and go after them when they’re absent. We
give people space. We treat our people like responsible adults, and assume
that there’s some pressing reason for their absence. We assume that people
will tell us if they want to join us or if they need help. So we don’t push.
Asking would be awkward, impolite, extremely kaypoh.
Not having people in my face all the time was great for me personally as
a newcomer. And I believe most of us in this church appreciate it too. But
you know what? It also got kind of lonely. When I was struggling with my
faith and with friendlessness, no one reached out, because everyone thought
that if I didn’t say anything, I was fine. But those who are struggling already
have enough to cope with, they don’t have the capacity to think about who
they should tell. And as a church, we rely too much on people taking the
initiative to tell us that they need help. We don’t look for it, and we don’t
ask. That’s not what it means to love one another. That’s not what it means
to be united in Christ, and not what it means to live as a family.
Jesus commanded us to love one another as He has loved us (John 15:12,
17) and it is through our love for one another that we are known as Jesus’
disciples (John 13:35). Do we love one another and actively express this
love? Not just to those in your immediate family, not just to those in your
small group, but also to the person who has been sitting in the pew in front
of you for the last 10 years, whose name you don’t know and have been too
embarrassed to ask for? Do we brave the possible tension and ask the difficult
questions about each other’s spiritual health? Are we, in fact, looking out
for each other’s welfare as Jesus did for our welfare? Remember: Jesus’
work of salvation on the cross for us was not contingent on us asking Him
to save us – so also, our care and concern for each other should not be
contingent on others first asking us. Will we make that effort to go beyond
the surface? Going beyond the surface is uncomfortable, but it is only when
we go beyond the surface that we exhibit true Christian love.