He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?”
Matthew 12:11 ESV
Doing Good on the Sabbath
Sunday eventually took the place of the Sabbath (Saturday) as the day of corporate worship for Christ-followers. During Christ’s incarnation it was not so, and as was his custom, Jesus was in a synagogue every Sabbath. The synagogue, however, was only a part of His spiritual worship, so He never let it stop Him from doing the physical work His Father had assigned–making religionists furious.
Being a Responder
At least one facet of God’s calling to live in community is that of a responder to people in crisis. As it was with Jesus, so it is with us—the day of the week in which those needs present themselves is irrelevant. Most people in a Christian’s orbit will never darken the door of a church. But that doesn’t matter, if–so to speak–one of those people fall in a ditch, responders are to lift them out. Broken people. Struggling people. Lonely people. Sick people. Dying people. Being such a caretaker can leave you exhausted, and spiritually out of breath.
Responders often have little evidence by which to measure their effectiveness unless they have met some sort of physical need. I think you know what I mean—it’s hard to gauge the effect of being a listening ear or offering kind and redemptive words. Also, for the responder, stepping into and then out of devastating situations to disengage and recharge can be difficult and spiritually taxing.
Being called to respond can come in bunches. Perhaps you have been through such a stretch, ministering to an unusual number of people whose world has been turned upside-down. Now, all of a sudden you as the responder find yourself to be the sheep in the pit, but it’s not a depression in the earth. No, it is a depression in the soul. In such times the hope is that at the very least a friend comes to your aid. Someone who will reach down, take hold, and lift you up. Someone to go out of their way for you. That’s what Jesus was getting at.
Food for Thought
Question about community:
Do you know your friends well enough to recognize when they have become a despondent responder?
If not, why not?