Pastoral caring is an important dimension in our Christian life. It is the gift of Christian love and nurture among members in the Body Life. At the heart, the one who extends love seeks to meditate the gracious presence of the Lord to another, and in so doing builds up and strengthens the brother or sister.
Jesus told His disciples: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35, NLT)
Our Lord conveys His expectation, giving it as a command. We share a common heritage. We belong to Christ and to one another. We need to take responsibility for each another – to watch over one another in love.
Here are four areas of pastoral caring that can be expressed in our Body Life.
Praying with and for one another
In our discipleship walk, there will be temptations and trials.
Writing to the Philippian believers, Paul lovingly conveyed that he was praying for them, that they “may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return” and that they may “always be… filled with the fruit of your salvation… the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ …” (Phil 1:9-11).
I believe we do pray for one another. But we must progress beyond “Lord, bless Sam and bless Betty” and focusing only on material things. Every Christian must be alert that we may encounter attacks from the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8). We need to pray with and for one another, so that we will live pure and blameless lives before the Lord.
Encouraging one another
There is also the specific dimension of encouragement. We are exhorted to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds”and to “encourage one another” (Heb 10:24-25). This requires us to come alongside other people in a way that will strengthen them in Christ.
Encouragement may mean helping to bear their load, or being a friend in times of need, and sharing your conviction that God is faithful, as you have experienced Him. One important dimension is to remind one another not to stay away from our worship meetings. In congregational worship, we come together as God’s people to praise and adore Him – the gathering of the saints in worship kindles in us that passion that does not readily occur in solitude. Martin Luther once confided: “At home in my own house there is no warmth or vigour in me, but in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through.” Like climbers roped together climbing a steep slope, we must keep track of one another in our discipleship walk.
Rendering practical helps
Helping in the body of Christ can take a variety of forms. We can “lend a hand” and do mundane chores with a spirit of humility and grace, to meet the needs of our brother or sister. These can provide support and relief in practical measures.
Keeping watch over our spiritual lives
It is good to hear this lovely exhortation:
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:16-17)
There is the important place of teaching and admonishing one another. We do so not with our own ideas or philosophies, but with reference to the Word of Christ. We belong to Him, and we must help keep watch over each other’s spiritual lives.
Pastoral caring in the family of God must be practiced. We must be willing to extend the gift of Christian love and nurture to one another. This will require our availability to give and our willingness to receive. The Lord desires that we edify one another in our discipleship walk.
By David LT Yap, Advisory Pastor (YCKC Bulletin 4&5 June 2016)