I have been meditating on the story of the man with a withered hand in Mark 3:1-6 in preparation for an upcoming men’s retreat. This passage is a wonderful account of Jesus’ compassion on social outcasts. Jesus is willing to challenge the oppressive religious authorities of his day in order to heal this man and restore him in the eyes of the surrounding community.
But this beautiful story has a dark ending. Verse 6 reads:
The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Since it is common for us to read the Pharisees as the villains in the gospel stories, it is quite easy for us to read over a verse like this without giving it a second thought. Continue Reading
How do adults make friends? We don’t. At least that is how it feels. A common “adulting” joke I often hear today is how difficult it is for adults in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s to make new friends. A quick search on Google revealed this Buzzfeed article that humorously captures how many adults feel today.
These jokes are funny because they’re true. In the time since my wife and I have been married, one of the most frequent conversations we have is how desperate we are for close friends that we can share our lives with. While the circumstances of having moved to several different churches in a short time frame hasn’t helped anything, we have found it tremendously difficult to create deep and lasting relationships with others. Between our busy schedules and the apparent lack of interest from other people, friends are really hard to come by.
We are not alone in this feeling. In fact, all signs point to the fact that Americans have ignored an epidemic of loneliness which has swept through our society, leaving our communities to erode from under us. If Christians are going to be salt and light in this world, then the most important thing we could do is live in a way that promotes deeper friendship and stronger local communities. Continue Reading