I’ve been focusing on the This Is Us television series featuring Jack, Rebecca, Kate, Kevin, and Randall – and the drama of their relationships across multiple generations. I have likened the show’s fictional family to “us” as a church family. Sometimes we can be a bit emotional and “multilayered” in our own drama, but we’re still committed to each other as a family of believers – no matter what. We’re a real family. It’s a human family, but it’s also Christ’s family. Our worth is in Him. So is our perseverance.
One of the strengths of This Is Us is the writers’ ability to keep the viewers guessing. One episode feeds into the next, and we’re left waiting for “the rest of the story.” We’ll even put up with a little saccharine as long as there’s enough intrigue. Sounds like church life to me! But, in all earnestness, we owe it to each other to hang in there when the drama of congregational life does erupt. None of us is above being the source of the drama, and none of us is immune from being swept up in the drama. How can I say it nicely? Sometimes we need a Savior to save us from us.
So here we are, charged with bearing one another’s burdens. That’s where I left you in my last blog posting, and it leads me to say something which may seem obvious to you, but I must say it: we can only lighten another person’s burden in the power of the Holy Spirit! I would not be shepherding well if I admonished you to take care of each other, but then left you with the false impression that you could do that in your own strength. Simply stated, you can’t. Neither can I. We need a power source that isn’t us. And that’s what separates “us” from any TV drama.
In the power of the Holy Spirit, you and I become paracletes on behalf of each other. A paraclete is an advocate, a counselor, and an ally – one who will represent you well when you can’t represent yourself. After Jesus announced to His disciples that He would be leaving them soon (John 14:16-17), He then gave them a word of tremendous encouragement: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” With and in.
The Greek word translated “Helper,” “Comforter,” or “Counselor” is parakletos. This form of the word properly means “one called to the side of another.” Like a good attorney who sits next to the one whom that attorney represents. The very presence of the lawyer indicates the strongest of support. The most capable representation. The very best case that can be made. In John this Counselor, or Paraclete, is God the Holy Spirit – the third Person of the Trinity who has been “called to our side.”
On any given day, we may be very hard to love. Others in our church family may be difficult to love. But, as we learn to love and take care of each other, we rely upon a “power from on high” (Luke 24:49): the ultimate Paraclete – who always desires the best for us, and who always represents us in the best possible light. He is that light. The Holy Spirit represents us in the light of what Christ has done for us on the cross. That, my friends, is just plain old gospel good news.
There’s no room for gossip in the church of Jesus Christ because everybody’s got everybody’s back. So go ahead and love the dickens out of your church family! I will too. I’ll share more thoughts on this subject in my next blog posting. Please stay tuned.
This is us.