One of the key rules of automotive operation is: “Never drive on a flat tire.” Even if the tires on your car are only 5 minutes old, if one goes flat and you keep driving on it, even if it’s just a short distance, the warranty is void. The tire was designed to support the weight of the car at high rates of speed, only if it is properly inflated. A flat tire under those same conditions starts to seriously deteriorate in a matter of seconds. It doesn’t take much for those sturdy sidewalls to turn into shredded rubber. Driving on a flat tire is hard on your wheels, too. What could have been fixed with a spare tire, a patch, and a bit of perspiration can cost hundreds of dollars after driving flat for even a short distance.
If there’s one thing you can count on as a driver, it’s that somewhere, someday, probably when you least expect or want it, you’re going to be stuck changing a flat tire somewhere along the road. Likewise, If there’s one thing you can count on as a person, it’s that you’ll have problems along the road of life. The key to long-term survival of both tires and people lies in stopping to “change tires” before the damage becomes irreparable.
For some reason, folks get so accustomed to their emotional and spiritual “flat tires” that they never even think about actually stopping to change them. It’s even worse when it’s a problem you can’t handle alone. For some of us, the very act of asking someone else to help you with a problem—or even admitting that you have a problem—is like your car having a flat tire on a dirt road, on a hot day, when you’re wearing a white suit. It’s more comfortable to either drive on the flat tire, or just sit still inside the car and pretend that everything is fine, than to get out and risk getting dirty.
Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Many of us look at that scripture and think in terms of helping other people who are troubled. It’s much easier to help others to deal with their problems than it is to face our own challenges and ask for help. The scripture doesn’t say “bear someone else’s problems.” It says “Bear one another’s burdens.” The scripture paints a picture of the church as an interdependent community, where the one you support in time of need also supports you in your time of need. That dynamic is an important part of what sets Christianity apart from other religious persuasions. Look at the early church described in the book of Acts, and you’ll find an interdependent group of followers who not only turned the world upside down, but who also cared for each other, bore each other’s burdens, and helped each other in their times of need. We find phrases like “the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32a) and “there was not a needy person among them.” (Acts 4:34a, NNAS). This crowd didn’t go around “driving on flat tires.” Their relationships were close enough that, when someone had a struggle or heartache, they couldn’t hide it. When someone suffered an emotional “flat tire,” the church gathered around them and lovingly ministered healing to them. It wasn’t some special occasion, it was just normal brothers and sisters in Christ, caring for each other as Jesus had taught his disciples to do. When Luke boldly stated that “there was not a needy person among them,” he wasn’t referring only to material needs like food and clothing. The early church was a true “community of faith” where every broken heart could be healed.
No matter how good your programs are or how well attended it may be, If your church isn’t involved in the important business of ministering healing to brokenhearted people, you need to re-evaluate your direction.
If Luke visited your church, would he be able to report that “there was not a needy person among them”?