Yesterday I was thinking about how much fun it was to play Freeze Tag when I was young…and how doing life with other believers is kinda like playing this fun game with adults.
For those who may not remember, freeze tag is played when the person who is “it” runs around trying to tag the other players. Once tagged, the player is now in a frozen state until an unfrozen teammate rushes to “untag” them and set them free.
A couple of months ago, I initiated a game of freeze tag with my grandchildren. I loved seeing the teamwork between them. Unfrozen children were strategizing and rushing to the aid of their frozen cousins. The “us” verses “them” competition was playful and fun. Of course, the game wasn’t without bickering and “NO! You never touched me!” accusations, but it was primarily an enjoyable 20 minutes of seeing the kids rally to help one another.
This reminds me of being a part of a redeemed community — the church. Last week at our Community Group (mid-week small groups at Redeemer Church) Benny continued his encouragement for us to “incarnate Christ” to one another as we pursue biblical fellowship. One of the ways we can do this, he shared, is to understand what genuine empathy is. It’s more than feeling badly for the hurting person; rather, it’s trying to put yourself into their difficult situation to consider how challenging it would be actually experience what they are walking through.
He then asked if anyone was struggling who could use support and help. A gal in the group spoke up about some challenges in her marriage. As is increasingly becoming the case in our new little church, it was heartwarming to watch one person after another ask insightful, gentle questions; help this wife identify what was going on in her heart (anger, bitterness, disappointment, weariness); express tender empathy over how hard the ongoing nature of these challenges must be; and then point to the evidences of God’s sustaining grace in her life. Years of disappointment and struggle have produced some lovely fruit in her life and it was a joy to point these things out to her!
Hope came. And she was strengthened in her faith to take the first step to open up and honestly share her heart with her husband — something she hadn’t yet done because she didn’t expect a good response from him if she did.
Difficult circumstances had left this young wife and mother “frozen” in a perplexing and disappointing marriage between flawed and weak people who genuinely love each other — but who are wronging and being wronged on a regular basis. She didn’t know what was needed or how to think.
Our little group rallied around her, rushing to her one by one to tag her with gospel hope. Seeing the church in action reminded me of why I love being a part of a church where self-protective mask-wearing is being replaced with vulnerability and humility.
It’s risky. And we’ll make mistakes along the way. We’ll ask the wrong questions and push rather than gently tag one another. But that’s okay because the goal isn’t to love one another perfectly. There’s only One who can do that.
Yesterday our friend told me she and her husband had a wonderful talk the night before. She started opening up to him and he didn’t respond as she expected! Now she’ll be better equipped to run to the aid of another who is frozen with uncertainty, confusion, disappointment or anger.
I hope you are enjoying the benefits of a culture of grace in a church that enjoys doing life together. If not, consider asking around to find a gospel preaching church that is seeking to practice biblical fellowship in real life. After all, you’re like me and everyone I know: frozen in one way or another and needing someone to rush to you with hope and help.
The fact is, we can’t play freeze tag alone.