"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « It is finished! | Main | Charismatics and the Word of Faith Movement »

    Side by Side by Ed Welch

    Get your hands on this book!

    This book identifies the skills we need to help one another. It is for everyone—friends, parents, even neighbors. Along the way we will find that God is pleased to use or¬dinary people, ordinary conversations, and extraordinary and wise love to do most of the heavy lifting in his kingdom. The basic idea is that those who help best are the ones who both need help and give help. A healthy community is dependent on all of us being both. So the book is divided into two parts. The first part guides you in sharing your burdens; the second part guides you in bearing the burdens of others. We all need help—that’s simply part of being human. The help we need goes beyond things like getting our house painted or finding a good mechanic. It’s deeper than that. We need help for our souls, especially when we are going through hardships. Help can be as simple as connecting with someone who understands or with someone who genuinely says, “I’m so sorry.” We were not designed to go through hard things alone.

    But it’s not easy to ask for help. We spend a lot of time hiding our neediness because we are afraid of what people will think. Speaking personally, on most days I am happy to give help and reluctant to ask for it. For me, being needy is a sign of weakness, and, given a choice, I prefer to appear strong or at least competent.

    Yet weakness—or neediness—is a valuable asset in God’s community. Jesus introduced a new era in which weakness is the new strength. Anything that reminds us that we are dependent on God and other people is a good thing. Otherwise, we trick ourselves into thinking that we are self-sufficient, and arrogance is sure to follow. We need help, and God has given us his Spirit and each other to provide it.

    We are all helpers—this too is part of being human. A young child is most satisfied when helping parents cook or clean. They delight in contributing to the household. In this, they illustrate how God has given all people gifts “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7), and all gifts are needed. There is no such thing as an unnecessary person.

    Actually, we offer help so often that we might not even be aware of it. We listen to a roommate or a spouse about struggles at work, we commiserate with a friend who is full of fears, we give advice to the member of our small group who is going through a bumpy relationship, we ask how we can pray.

    We were meant to live that way. We were meant to walk side by side, an interdependent body of weak people. God is pleased to grow and change us through the help of people who have been re-created in Christ and empowered by the Spirit. That is how life in the church works.

    And yet fear enters in. We are afraid to jump into the com¬plexities of someone’s life. Who are we to help someone else? We have troubles galore. Our past makes a mess of the present. Sin always threatens to overtake us. And who doesn’t have a psychological disorder? We feel broken ourselves and fear we will only make things worse for others. We feel unqualified.

    In our era we consult experts, professionals, and special¬ists, but when you look at your own history of having been helped, it’s likely that you’ll notice very few experts among those who have helped you. Who were your helpers? Were they professional counselors or specialists? Probably not. Most often, they were friends—the regular, everyday people in your life. Friends are the best helpers. They come prepackaged with com¬passion and love. All they need is wisdom, and that is available to everyone.

    It’s the perfect system. If God used only experts and people of renown, some could boast in their own wisdom, but God’s way of doing things is not the same as our way. We ordinary people have been given power and wisdom through the Holy Spirit and are called to love others (John 13:34). From this be¬ginning, we are compelled to move toward others rather than stay away.

    So I am writing for people like me, who are willing to move toward other struggling people but are not confident that they can say or do anything very helpful. If you feel quite weak and ordinary—if you feel like a mess but have the Spirit—you have the right credentials. You are one of the ordinary people God uses to help others.
    As we get the knack of this rhythm—being needy and needed—Jesus will be in it and over it. He was weak before we were; he was dependent on his Father and dependent even on mere human beings. He also came to serve rather than to be served, and he did it side by side. As far as we are able, we do this with one another.

    Posted by Marco on April 6, 2015 04:09 PM

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