When we moved into our current home, on introducing themselves to us, our neighbours concluded the conversation with, “We’re not the kind to be in and out of each others houses here.” Well, there’s not very far you can go after that. So I won’t bother inviting you round for the drink I was just about to then…
During our time here some of the neighbours have turned out to be rather more friendly, but I’ve never been in any of their houses – which is quite strange in what is generally a very friendly town. Perhaps this is just an unusual collection of households?
How about our church communities? How do we live together there?
13 If you are having trouble, you should pray. And if you are feeling good, you should sing praises. 14 If you are sick, ask the church leaders to come and pray for you. Ask them to put olive oil on you in the name of the Lord. 15 If you have faith when you pray for sick people, they will get well. The Lord will heal them, and if they have sinned, he will forgive them.
16 If you have sinned, you should tell each other what you have done. Then you can pray for one another and be healed. The prayer of an innocent person is powerful, and it can help a lot. 17 Elijah was just as human as we are, and for three and a half years his prayers kept the rain from falling. 18 But when he did pray for rain, it fell from the skies and made the crops grow.
19 My friends, if any followers have wandered away from the truth, you should try to lead them back. 20 If you turn sinners from the wrong way, you will save them from death, and many of their sins will be forgiven.
James gives three examples of how we should live together:
- We should pray together – both in times of need and times of praise.
Do we support each other that way? Not just in joining in a prayer list, but in truly getting alongside one other? Do we share our needs with others so they can pray? Or do we keep our “My life is Fine” face on, and not let others minister to us? Do we share the good things that are happening, that we can all praise God together and share in rejoicing in his goodness?
- Share our struggles
Would we dare to tell one another if we had got things wrong? To seek support in the parts of life that we find hard or trip us up? Do we create an atmosphere where it is possible to do so, or would someone worry that their struggles would become gossip and common knowledge? Our deepest cries and trials are precious and should be treated as such. What a true blessing to be able to share them with people who will support us – and to be the one listening and supporting.
- Leading others back
Now this is a tricky one… For we have to be careful of not sitting in judgement; not implying that our life is perfect; not having all the answers – but can we walk with those trying to find their way?
All these are things that James says we should be doing in our Christian communities – standing in support of one another and keeping each other honest – true community living.
help me to live out my part in your community.
Help me to share myself,
help me to share myself
by standing in support,
by walking with others;
help me to share myself
and allow others to share themselves
that together we may build a community