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Loving People One at a Time
As a community of believers, we can find ourselves putting a lot of effort, a lot of resources, and a lot of energy behind programs, gatherings, and events. But if you sit and talk to people who come to know and follow Jesus, you will likely hear stories of one person at a time experiencing the love of Jesus from someone who follows Christ. The way that we have the greatest impact on the world and the way that we make the biggest difference in our community is by each of us understanding that we have been called to love people one at a time. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been given a mission to show the love of Jesus to people who haven't experienced it yet. Who has Jesus placed in your life that he wants you to love one person at a time? Maybe it's a neighbor that recently moved in and they don't really know anyone yet, and you have a window of opportunity to reach out to them. Maybe it's a coworker who's been sick and they've been out of the office for a while, and they just need somebody to check on them. Maybe it's a relative that is going through some difficulties with a teenager, and they just need to know they're not alone, and you could point them in a direction where they could get some help and some support. Is there someone like that in your life? Don't let these examples be rhetorical – fill in some names here. As Christ-followers, we are not meant to be known or remembered by our rules, traditions, or political opinions. We are to be known by how we love others; in way that is different and distinct from the way that the rest of the world loves. By loving the least of these, those that aren’t easy to love, and those are in difficult situations, we show what Jesus and Christianity are truly about.  Reflection/Discussion Question: Who are some people in your life that Jesus wants you to love one at a time?
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God Sees Our Faith
Once the paralyzed man was lowered through the roof by his friends and placed in front of Jesus, we read Jesus’s response in verse 20. Luke 5:20 says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’” Notice the importance of the pronoun that Scripture uses; Jesus saw their faith. Think about that, especially when you are tempted to think that you don't really need any help with things, you’ve got things handled all on your own, or your faith is strong enough to handle whatever life throws at you all by yourself. The other hand, if you're reading this and your faith feels a little bit low, as if your faith tank is running on empty, and you need to borrow somebody else's faith, you're in the right place. Your fellow believers have got some faith for you to use. This is what it looks like for us to support one another and pray for one another. There are going to be other times when someone else may need some faith from you because theirs is running a little bit low.  There are also going to be times in your life when you're struggling, you have some questions, and things haven't quite gone the way you thought that they would. You need a little faith and others in your church and community will have some for you. It's the faith of all the friends that Jesus sees, and we read what else Jesus says in verses 24- 26: So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’”  We should long to be a part of a church and a movement where we look around at each other and we are struck by the remarkable things that we are witnesses to because of our faith in Jesus.  Reflection/Discussion Question: When is a time that you recently needed some faith from others because yours was running low?
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Those Inside the House
Luke 5:19 says, “When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.” The verb tense here is this idea that these friends tried and tried to find a way; they kept trying to find a way, and they were waiting to find a way. They were working at getting through the crowd, but they just couldn’t squeeze their way through all the people already inside the house. But they didn’t find some reason to say it was just too hard, too expensive, or too distracting. They go up to the roof, all of them together, and they lower their friend down in front of Jesus after literally wrecking the roof. The friends came to this radical idea because the people inside the house weren’t making any room available to them so they could get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. To us, this may seem incredibly insensitive or rude, and yet, it happens so often in the Church today too. It happens in the church when we care more about keeping things intact than about restoring lives that have been shattered. It happens when we are more upset about stuff getting broken than we are excited about broken things being mended. It happens in the church when we're more focused on debating the teachings of Jesus than we are focused on people being forgiven and healed by Jesus. It happens when we're more upset about the church being messy than excited about messy people coming to church. It's when the church exists for itself and makes no room for those on the outside. To those on the inside of the house: we should always be thinking, praying, dreaming, and loving those outside the house. Reflection/Discussion Question: When have you found yourself being more concerned about what is happening inside the house than with loving those outside the house?