As we begin today I want you to be aware that this reflection is inspired by the writing of John Ortberg in his book, “Everyone’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them.” John Ortberg is one of my favorite authors and I recommend any of his writing, especially my favorite book, “Love Beyond Reason.”
Alameda County Study:
A group of Harvard Social scientist conducted the most extensive research study on community a few years back. They tracked the lives of 7,000 people over nine years.
Researches found that the people who were in isolation were 3 times more likely to die then people who had strong relationships. People who had bad health habits such as: Smoking, poor eating habits, obesity, and alcohol, but had strong social ties, lived significantly longer than people who had great health habits but were isolated. If you think about it, it’s better to eat Twinkies with good friends then to eat broccoli alone. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that scenario any day of the week.
Robert Putnam the Harvard researcher says that if you are not a member of a group but decide to become a member, you will cut your risk of dying in half.
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported the results when 276 volunteers were infected with a virus that produces the effects of a common cold. The study showed that people who had strong emotional connections did 4 times better fighting off illness then those who were more isolated. These people were less susceptible to colds, had less virus, and produced significantly less mucous than isolated people. This means it’s true what they say, unfriendly people really are snottier.
There was a guy in the bible that had one of the best group of friends of all time. His relationships with four guys would be the envy of any close-knit groups. In fact, these four friends were the only thing this man had. We find his story in Mark 2
Mark 2:1-4 (NLT) When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home.2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.
Picture this with me… Jesus is in the room teaching as many people as could fit in the room when suddenly mud, thatch, and straw starts dropping on their heads. Suddenly light starts to stream in from the ceiling and people begin to realize that there is a hole being ripped open through the roof. Then as people were sitting there looking up they notice a silhouette of something being lowered down. They must have wondered what it was, when they realized, it’s a person! Scripture indicates that Jesus was looking up at the hole in the ceiling as well.
Mark 2:5 (NLT) 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”
If a bunch of guys ripping through a roof in order to lower a paralyzed man to Jesus isn’t amazing enough, if you’re not careful you’ll miss another amazing fact! This is the only story in the entire bible where it was the faith of others that healed someone else of their sin!
The four men knew the best place for their friend was at the feet of Jesus. They were willing to do whatever it took, even breaking open a roof, to get him there.
The Challenge Today
Our reflection of Mark 2 raises two important questions:
Who are you carrying? Who is carrying you?
Who are you carrying?
Are you the type of friend that would be willing to do anything to get your spiritually paralyzed friend to the feet of Jesus? Here’s the other challenge, when you get there and Jesus looks at you, will your faith be strong enough to heal your friend?
Who is carrying you?
The other portion of this story is recognizing that we all have a mat? Our mat’s all look different and come in all shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day, we not only need to carry another’s mat, but we need people who will be willing to care our own. Think about this question today, do you have have people in your life who are mat carriers for you when you need it; and more importantly, if Jesus saw their faith, would their faith heal you?