The safety net

When a high wire performer at the circus walks daringly out on a line suspended 30 feet above the ground, generally something called a ‘safety net’ is strung between the wire and the floor! It is there to catch her if she falls. The more daring perform without one! The term has come into our vocabulary referring to the government programs created to help people in need. Social Security is a safety net for older Americans. Unemployment compensation is there for those who lose their job. Whatever your opinion of those programs, it is hard to deny that generally Americans live a better life because of them.

Sooner or later you are going to need a safety net in life. We all get knocked off the wire by gusts of winds of trouble at one time or another. Aside from knowing God, Who is the ultimate source of security, we need people who form networks that can support us, who will catch us as we fall. 

Are you weaving a strong safety net of relationships? 
Is your life inter-connected with others in a network of care?

Solomon, reflecting on the plight of the person who has attempted life as a solo act, “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:8-12, NIV)

American wealth and independence has an unintended consequence – creation of legions of people who come to a crisis without knowing anyone on whom they can call. We love to live life on our own terms, doing our own thing, finding our own way.  A generation ago, Frank Sinatra recorded a song that celebrated the myth of the independent man, I Did It My Way.  It was an anthem reflecting an impossible ideal, attractive on the surface, but tragic in the long run. People who did it their way, burning bridges along the way, discarding difficult people, refusing to ‘join’ a wider network of relationships that would hinder them in their pursuit of their own life, often end up sitting alone in their home friendless and afraid.

Christian, God calls us into His Church, not just to sit in a church on Sunday morning, but to become part of an intimate community. I’m sure that you already know that intellectually, but my question to you is this – does the way you live each day show that you prioritize those relationships?  It is easy to give a nod to the idea of being ‘in the Body of Christ.’  We know and believe Jesus’ words about love for one another. Now, will we actually work those concepts into our lives, in the process creating strong interdependent relationships that a reliable safety net for life?

A single line in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians holds the key to networks that last: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21, NIV) The word he uses in the first text of the Bible is a word about order, about falling in line and keeping step with the marching column.  We love to celebrate the person who ‘marches to the beat of their own drum.’  But, the Spirit of God asks us to hear the call of Christ and to give up our independence as we revere Him together, following His lead. It’s complicated, isn’t it?  Living in a real community is inconvenient, costly, and very counter-cultural to our American ideals!

Here are some words from the Word. Take some time to meditate on them, prayerfully asking God how this wisdom can be woven into your choices in life. You will be richer in obedience.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10, NIV)

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22, NIV)

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (offenses)” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV)

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12, NIV)

Now, how strong are your safety nets?

________________

We Will Stand

(From the 80’s – a song by Russ Taff about ‘together.’)

Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand
Why we pull away from each other so easily
Even though we’re all walking the same road?
Yet we build dividing walls
Between our brothers and ourselves.

But, I don’t care what label you may wear,
If you believe in Jesus you belong with me!
The bond we share is all I care to see,
And we’ll change the world forever,
If you will join with me,
Join and sing, sing.

You’re my brother, you’re my sister,
So take me by the hand.
Together we will work until He comes.
There’s no foe that can defeat us,
When we’re walking side by side,
As long as there is love,
We will stand!

The day will come when we will be as one
And with a mighty voice
Together we will proclaim that
Jesus, Jesus is King.
It will echo through the earth.
It will shake the nations.
And the world will see, see that;

You’re my brother, you’re my sister,
So take me by the hand.
Together we will work until He comes.
There’s no foe that can defeat us,
When we’re walking side by side,
As long as there is love,
We will stand!

James Hollihan | Russ Taff | Tori Taff © 1983 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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