Do you remember the way sheets smelled when you took them off the clothesline? You could bury your face in the warm twill and breathe in the scent of sweet air. Today we buy fuzzy dryer cloths to produce similar results but it doesn’t work. There are some things only clotheslines can do.
When I was in my first counseling class in Graduate school, I remember learning that the essence of counseling was no different than two women talking over a clothesline sharing their joys and their struggles. I, of course, was disappointed. I wanted to learn magical and marvelous techniques to eliminate the pain and strife of the universe. (Obviously I was not lacking ego being an all knowing twenty-something at the time.) I thought I needed to do something more than submit to learning the basics of how one person reaches out to lift up another. Perhaps all the secrets of lift up others can be found in the backyard with a basket of wet sheets and a friend.
The Apostle Paul believed lifting one another up was the job of the church. After explaining that each believer is part of the Body of Christ he says in 1 Corinthian 12:26 “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” Wouldn’t that be amazing? Could there be any clearer picture of the work of the Holy Spirit on our planet than a group of Christ followers lifting up one another in times of suffering and times of honor?
But I have to tell you, I see three problems with this concept of Paul’s in the modern church.
- Do we know when people are suffering or are we so disconnected and they so proud that the needs of hurting people go unattended?
- When we know someone is hurting do we know what to do?
- Do we believe that reaching out is our job or the job of the next guy’s?
But what if the church became a clothesline? What if the church became the place where people take time from their task to see how the other person is doing? “How’s your suffering? What’s your praises?” Just by staying connected you are already doing what needs to be done- lifting the person up. And through that connection, you’ll learn more about what they need and how you can help. Being connected is more than saying “I’m here if you need me.” It’s stepping into their pain so you learn how to help.
What if the church became the place where people on the inside were looking out to lift up others and people on the outside were looking in for someone to lift them up? Can you imagine the sweet fragrance flowing through the church then? Better than a cotton sheet flapping in the wind on a bright sunny day! Look around for the people God has placed in your life to lift up and let the sweet breeze of connecting with another person flow.