Did you know Jesus was the first neighborhood activist? In Jesus, God’s Word became flesh. Jesus was sent by God from heaven to earth to show us what God is like. The original language in the Bible clarifies Jesus’ mission. “Jesus pitched His tent in earth’s neighborhood…” Jesus came to earth to show the way, not just preach, screech, beseech or teach the way. He got involved. He wore blue jeans. He became a participant. He got his hands dirty. He had compassion. Then his compassion turned into passion and then action.
Jesus served people with no agenda. Most caring these days has some self-serving email attachment that comes with it. Jesus served people, just because. It was God’s love in action.
There is a story in the Bible of a paraplegic who had four friends. The friends heard that Jesus was speaking in a small house near them. The paraplegic couldn’t get to Jesus on his own, so the four men carried him to the house. The house, however, was crowded with people. So, what did the four friends do? They tore a hole in the roof of the house and lowered the paraplegic through the hole to Jesus. Can you imagine what the homeowner thought of that? Try explaining that damage to your home insurance agent!
The paraplegic was incapable, incapacitated and inadequate to have faith himself. He was not able to approach Jesus for himself. Many people are like this man. They are hurt emotionally, physically and financially. They are paralyzed by past mistakes, their inability to forgive, bitterness, criticism, low self-esteem, negative circumstances, poverty, disease and the like in their lives.
However, this paraplegic had four roof-raising friends! He was personally limited but corporately connected. His four friends could transport him beyond his injury to places, people and peace that he could never reach on his own. Where they went, he could go. He received the benefit of their faith, their hope, their perseverance and their resourcefulness. His climbing companions were friends born for adversity. They were friends who stick closer together than a brother. When you have friends like these, anything can happen.
His friends were hopeful that Jesus could heal their friend. Because they had hope, which is the expectation of future good, they had faith. Faith won’t let a crowd of people in a small house with no easy way in deter them. Faith understands that when doors are closed, you try the roof. They raised the roof for their friend. Lesson: They cared, they dared, they shared and they all fared well. They weren’t too busy for their friend in need, a citizen of their community.
They lent him their faith. His healing came from Jesus, but his faith came from others. Jesus saw “their faith.” People can be mended by the faith of others. Your “paralyzed” neighbor, boss, customers, friends, spouse or family member may not have faith, but you can! Don’t let a crowd of people crowd out being a blessing to others. You never know what can happen when you get them in the presence of God.
Sometimes miracles such as healing, salvation, even changes of attitude, are instant, as in this case. Other times, they require a process. God is responsible for which way the healing comes. There are friends and there are crowds. Our “friendly” ministry is to get them to Jesus, even if we need to do some roof raising. Maybe even someday, in your time of need, someone may raise the roof for you.
Jesus saw the faith of the paraplegic’s friends, who were not intimidated by the need or the crowd. He spoke to the man and said, “Rise, take up your bed and go home.” The paraplegic rose, took up his bed and went home. He said fare well to welfare for the rest of his life.
Think of it this way: The community is paralyzed with crowds of needs. The church is the four climbing companions who lend their faith to the needy until the needy can get their own faith. That’s a win-win for everyone.
In the Scriptures there is a verse which says, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself.” Do you know what God is saying to us in this verse? “Neighbor, won’t you be My neighbor and then be your neighbor’s real neighbor?”
Think of that you daring, sharing, caring, giving, radically different, faith-filled roof raisers.