Don't Be Greedy With Your Pain

by Michael Kelley November 2, 2016

“Share.”

The word has taken on a very different meaning in the last 10 years. Once upon a time, this was a word that was mostly confined to parental contexts, used in terms of brothers, sisters, and playdates, to admonish kids to allow others to also play with their stuff. But not now. Now, “sharing” is about posting. It’s about photos, videos, statuses, blog posts, and whatever else we dump onto the social media machine. Every crafted photo, every captured moment, every clever statement or hot take on the current issue we have is now “sharable.” And we measure the value of those photos, moments, and statements based on how many subsequent times they are re-shared.

Even so, there is a certain irony with our sharing. While we are sharing more and more, we are sharing less and less at the same time.

Another way to say it is this: Both our quality and quantity of sharing is going up, but our authenticity of sharing is going down. Fleshing that out, it means thanks to technology, it is easier to share than it ever has been before, and so we do. Technology has not only enabled to share more from a volume standpoint, it has also enabled us to share more quality things. Thanks to filters, the ease of picture-taking, and quick editing you can make sure that every image is rightly lit and perfectly posed and that every statement has just the right amount of snark and cleverness.  These are our best moments, our best statements, and our best thoughts, “shared.”

I personally don’t have a problem with that. In the old days, when you would invite someone over to look at your vacation slide show, you wouldn’t include the pictures that “didn’t make the cut.” So in this very public forum, there is a certain amount of discretion that is rightly applied when we choose not to dump all our dirty laundry all over the internet. But this new version of “sharing”, in which we share in both great quantity and quality, has to be amended when it comes to the church. For in the church, we have a very simple and yet increasingly difficult to follow command found in Romans 12:9-15:

Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs;pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.

These are some of the very practical applications of the very thorough explanation of the gospel Paul had given in the first eleven chapters of Romans. But these commands are mostly all “one another” in nature, meaning they cannot be obeyed apart from our relationships with each other. In particular, though, notice the very last sentence of the passage:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.

In the church, we cannot weep with each other if we never see or know that we are weeping. And here’s where we find the rub with our “sharing.” In our new day of “sharing,” we are liberal with our triumphs but greedy with our pain. And while that might pass just fine on Facebook, it will not do in the church.

“I’m a private person,” we might argue. “It’s no one else’s business,” we might say. “It’s my cross to bear,” we might conclude. And yet we still find these challenging words for the church: Weep with those who weep.

As the people of God, we have a communal responsibility for each other. To live in obedience to that vision of the church, then, we must be willing to share, but not just share the best of us. We must not hoard our pain and weakness, but instead, in a more genuine and authentic way than ever before disclose ourselves to each other. And then we will truly not only “like” each other, but weep with each other.