I’ve recently been re-reading Mark’s gospel. It’s an expertly crafted story that builds in intensity. Throughout the story, Jesus demonstrates his authority over sickness, nature, and even death. Nothing can stand in his way. By the time we reach chapter 14, Jesus is in Jerusalem, proclaiming some of his boldest teachings, and confronting the authorities in the Temple. It surely must have felt like it was only a matter of time until he took on Rome itself. But then, right at this crucial moment Jesus is arrested and “everyone deserted him and fled” (Mark 14:50).
Even Peter, his staunchest supporter, denied three times that he knew Jesus. At his lowest point Jesus found himself abandoned and alone. Right when he needed his friends the most, there was no one to help him.
Like Jesus we can often feel that we face life hardest moments alone. Though unlike Jesus this is often a result of us turning our friends away. It’s easy for hard circumstances to draw us into isolation rather than further into community.
But if we’re being really honest, it is not even just in life’s hardest moments that we can forsake our friends. Even when life’s just really busy we can be tempted to cut ourselves off. Pressure mounts and perhaps the first thing to go is our church community.
April is always a busy time of year. We may get a short break at Easter but around the corner lurks the end of the financial year, dissertation deadlines and exams. Times like this, when life is at its hardest and busiest, are exactly when we need Jesus, and our church family, the most.
It shouldn’t surprise us that the New Testament is filled with encouragements to keep going and to keep meeting together. Hebrews 10:25 says “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” The writer is effectively saying, don’t neglect what’s most important just when you need it.
So, even during this busy time of year, can I encourage you – don’t neglect to meet together. Enjoy hanging out with people, doing something other than work. Savour those moments that help you look beyond your next deadline. Carve out time to laugh lots with friends. Take strides to deliberately reorient your life around what really matters, particularly when you feel that all you can do is tread water.
You may just find that it helps you through.
Image: Watches by Chris Brown, used under CC