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Community MATTERS!

Few things in life give deep, abundant joy. Most of them occur after moments of great sacrifice and selflessness. However, God has reserved one special joy for all who know Him. In the Church, we call it fellowship; in the world, we call it friendship, but neither fully reflects the joy-filled lives that we live when we enter into what the bible calls "Koinonia." Koinonia is a unique sharing of our lives in Christ-centered and Christ-honoring relationships.

A great picture of this is found in Mark 2:1-12, where a paralyzed man is carried on his mat by his friends so that he can see Jesus, who in turn heals him both spiritually and physically.

Hearing that Jesus is in town and knowing that their friend has a physical, and thus social, disability that has led him to a life of rejection, the friends decide that it would be of great value to connect these two people. Because of the unique needs of their friend, it takes them longer to get to where Jesus is, and when they arrive, the house is crowded. Their only access point is through the roof, so they decide to take it. You can imagine the scene as Jesus is speaking the Word of God to those gathered. Their intensity turns to bemusement as little bits of roofing material fall from the ceiling; a hole is created through which a grown, paralyzed man is lowered down and laid before Jesus' feet before he even gets to point two of his three-point sermon.

This story talks to two types of people and one person present in all Christian community groups.

Firstly, there is the man who sits on the mat. For years, because of his disability, he had to spend his existence sitting on a mat. He couldn't walk, work, play, party, or anything. Not only was he physically disabled, but because of the culture he was a part of, he was a social outcast and probably profoundly emotionally wounded. His mat symbolized the brokenness that prevented him from getting to Jesus. Did you know that all of us, at various times, need to sit on mats? Something is going on with us that prevents us from getting to Jesus. It happens more often than I'd like to admit, if I'm honest. A little vice, an emotional challenge, the right amount of rejection, I find myself paralyzed and unable to get to Jesus. It's at times like this when "mat sitters" need "mat carriers."

Mat Carriers, the second group in the Christian community, are the friends who love us so much that they help, on the stretchers of their prayers and the gurneys of encouragement and care, take us to Jesus. These people are heroes, and they care when they don't have to. They show an irrational commitment to do whatever it takes to ensure that we can break through our problems, and they creatively find ways for us to meet with Jesus.

Of course, the third person in caring, Christian communities is Jesus. Notice as this "mat sitter" is brought to him, Jesus lovingly and tenderly extends the necessary healing. He doesn't offer physical healing (vs. 11) but spiritual healing (vs. 5). Jesus promises that whenever two or more are gathered, he's there as well. Jesus is always ready to bring us some form of healing; sometimes, we need a little help from our friends to get it.

Find a small group, some Christian friends, and a Church who can carry you when you're stuck on your mat. In response, through your love, care, prayers, and encouragement, take turns to carry people to Jesus. 

We all have mats of pain in our lives, and we all have a responsibility to carry others' mats. That's why Community MATters!

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