Identify & Empathize
By Pastor Rick Hampton
(Continued from last month’s post)
Because of the fears we have we arm ourselves with life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, and fire insurance. Because of the atmosphere of fear we lock our doors at night and we take our keys out of the car and lock the car doors when we come to church.
In the eighth chapter of Romans Paul makes a statement about the environment of fear in which we live. He tells us that, as Christians, We have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear. (Romans 8:15a)
Paul told Timothy God has not given to us a spirit of fear (I Timothy 1:7). John says, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love (I John 4:18).
I like to share the ten things Paul tells us in Romans 8 that will free us from our fears. Read these ten things from time to time to reassure yourself that the issue of fears can be overcome. Paul gives us the way. There is no fear in judgment because we are in Christ. The weakness of the flesh has no fear for us because we are in Christ.
No knowing the way to go, not knowing what to do presents no fear because we are led by the Spirit of God The accusations of Satan hold no fear for us because the Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God.
There is no fear in that which hurts the flesh because we are sharing the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no fear in the troubles of now because they will not be worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. There is no fear in prayer because the Spirit helps our infirmities. There is no fear produced by changes that we don’t understand because we know that all things work together for good for them who loves God, who are called according to His purpose. There is no fear of the past, present or future because we have been set aside as the Lord’s from all eternity. There is no fear of anything or anyone because the Lord because the Lord is for us.
There is no fear of lack because with Christ we have the gift of all things necessary. There is no fear of defeat because we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Keep in mind God was not content to visit His people periodically. He went several steps further and sent His Son to live with us: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14. In Jesus Christ the transcendent God became man and one with us. The purpose of the incarnation was not so that God could condemn or censure the human family, but that He could save it unto Himself. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:17.
Perhaps nothing more characterizes the life and ministry of Jesus than His identification and empathy with people, including and especially those whom society condemned as sinners. Jesus often visited people in their homes where he listened to them, ate with them and generally met their needs.
The benefits of pastoral visitation as well as visitation of the laity can hardly be overemphasized or belabored. To be effective, pastors cannot afford to remain apart from their members. We must meet people where they are. Sometimes it requires a layman who has walked the same walk to bring insight and guidance. It cannot be accomplished by the pastor alone. When visiting is done by a pastor or laymen it helps to build warm and caring relationships.
I encourage you to make our staff or me personally aware of those who are suffering, have a long term illness, preparing to undergo surgery and shut-ins. I am thankful for members of the congregation who are doing visiting on their own. When I talk to those you’ve visited, I hear expressions of joy and encouragement from them.
Reach out from your own spiritual experiences and uplift others who suffer.