"Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
American men today know very little of friendship. A recent study showed that the biggest threat facing middle-aged men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness. No one sets out to isolate themselves, but as we age and get more involved in our jobs and family, we have less and less time for friendships. Before we realize it, we are on an island with no one to hear our cry. In fact, we’ve forgotten how to cry altogether. We may feel the heaviness but can’t find the cause and certainly can’t find the cure. But Galatians 6 makes no sense apart from friendships. In fact, much of the Christian life cannot be lived without others. Jesus saves us individually but connects us to a community where burden sharing is the norm.
Our churches should seek to fight the American pastime of loneliness. We want to push against the cultural call to isolation and push into the gospel call to loving our neighbor. The Christian life is hard enough as it is. Isolation makes it only harder.
So, who is bearing your burdens? Whose burdens are you bearing? Who are you confessing sin to? Who is confessing their sin to you? What other man really knows what’s going on inside you? Who actually knows you—not facts about you but the real you—the you kept hidden from so many others?
What if the Lord began creating friendships among us such that anyone walking through our doors on Sunday morning wouldn’t find just a collection of Christians assembled for a common cause but a group of Christian friends living life together for Christ? What change could that bring to our city?
As we are planting Refuge Church, we want to see a movement of men befriending other men for the sake of Christ because we believe gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. And in a gospel culture, no man stands alone. In a gospel-culture, men stand ready to give their lives away to others, for Jesus’s sake. We are part of a brotherhood, refusing to settle for a solitary life, ready to engage in the battle of our times.
We can take one of two paths: we can wait and see how our lives and the lives of others turn out, or we can move towards one another in encouragement with the gospel. At Refuge, the answer is obvious. We choose the second option.
So here is how this works:
- Find another man to whom you can commit. Meet regularly and faithfully.
- Spend your meeting time diving into the details of your life. Be open and honest with one another: confessing sin, seeking repentance, and clinging to Jesus.
- Pray for one another. We cannot fix each other, but we can help each other. We cannot take away one another’s sins. Only Jesus can do that. So we take one another’s burdens to Jesus.
- Encourage one another. Sanctification is a community project. We need the truth of the gospel.
- Read the Bible together. Share scripture together. Talk about Jesus together.
- A successful meeting ends with both of you walking away amazed at how good Jesus is.
What's stopping you from starting this today? What barriers do you have set up in your hear that the grace of Jesus can't break down, flooding it with his glorious purpose?