ODJ: Sharing Stories

September 3, 2016 

READ: Galatians 6:1-3 

Share each other’s burdens (v.2).

Many of the local churches in our city still exist with the same spirit of segregation that has plagued my country for so long. Aware of this evil, a group of pastors and leaders across ethnic divides meet monthly for breakfast. We pray and eat. We talk about economic realities and political structures. We talk about our local history (decades ago a neighborhood with thriving black-owned businesses was razed to the ground). The most powerful thing, however, is when one of us is bold and vulnerable enough to share our own story, our pains and fears, our hopes and our longings. In that moment we draw others close. We allow other people to share our burdens, to share our life.

I think often of Paul’s words instructing us to “share each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), and yet I’ve grown acutely aware of how we can’t actually share each other’s burdens unless we know each other’s burdens. And, of course, we can’t know each other’s burdens if we don’t know each other’s stories. We need time and space to discover and honor the unique wounds and joys that have helped shape who we are.

Jesus told us to “love your neighbor,” but we can’t love our neighbor if we don’t know our neighbor (Mark 12:31). Perhaps, at times, the most Christlike thing we can do is to ask a question and open our ears—be curious and concerned. I’m struck by how much time Jesus spent at the table with people sharing meals and experiences.

It can be overwhelming to try and resist the violent, unjust, dehumanizing forces in our world. One thing we can do, however, is share our story and receive the stories of others. In this way, God can use us to pour out His love for the world.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: Matthew 22:1-14

Read Luke 6:30-31 and think about how God’s love can be revealed in the way we share our stories and more with others. 
When have you shared your story and found that it was welcomed warmly? Who will you strive to share stories and friendship with this week?