The Faith of Friends
God did not design people to go through life alone. We all need friends, especially when life gets difficult and the going gets tough. There are somethings that you just need others to help you with, that you weren’t meant to go through alone.
The Apostle Luke tells the story of some friends who would stop at nothing to get their friend the help he needed. In chapter 5 of his Gospel he tells of some men who had a friend that was paralyzed and unable to move around on his own. They heard that Jesus, the Messiah, was in the area and that he was healing all the sick people that made it to his meetings. So they hatched a plan to help their friend. They made a special stretcher, secured their friend on it, and took off to where Jesus was teaching. They wanted their friend to get healed and they planned to make sure he would get to where Jesus could heal him.
When they arrived at the house where Jesus was teaching, though, it was so crowded that there was no way to get into the house. The throng of people were blocking all the doors and windows. However, these friends were not easily deterred; they just quickly switched from plan A to plan B. They decided to hoist their friend onto the roof of the house and began to remove the roof tiles so they could lower their friend down into the house for Jesus to heal him. Luke doesn’t give any detail of what the people inside were thinking or saying as they watched the dirt and dust begin to drop down on everyone, the tiles move away, and a man begin to be lowered right into the middle of the room. But the friends had calculated correctly, and the stretcher ended up on the floor right in front of Jesus.
I love that Jesus doesn’t scold them for their crazy and possibly dangerous actions. He doesn’t rebuke them for interrupting him, or for destroying the roof. All that Jesus saw was their faith. They had all believed, both the sick man and his friends. The friends had believed for their friend enough to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus. The sick man had believed enough to let his friends carry out their risky plan. And because of their faith their friend was healed.
What is beautiful about this story to me is its simplicity and what it teaches about faith. Three principles stand out clearly in what these men did for their friend. First, they really loved their friend and wanted him to get healed, almost as much as he did. Second, their acts of service were tangible expressions of God’s love. It wasn’t love as a doctrine or a theory; it was real-life do-the-hard-stuff kind of love. And third, their kindness drew their friend to Jesus. They couldn’t solve the big issue their friend had faced for most of his life, but they knew that Jesus could. So they helped him get there.
We can all be this kind of friend; friends who help others believe and get the help they need when they need it. We probably won’t have to tear up roofs in the neighborhood, but we do need to be willing and ready to do whatever it takes to help others get the help they need in their time of trouble. We can sit with someone through the dark night vigil. We can walk with someone through the veil of tears. We can stand strong in intercessory prayer for someone until God gives the much needed answer. We can hug and we can smile, and we can be there for someone when they feel all alone. Your caring can make the difference. You, caring enough to do whatever it takes, is the hand of God touching their soul when they need Him the most.
Be a friend. Let your faith inspire someone to believe and find hope. God will bless them through you. And you will be blessed for blessing them. The world needs friends like the men on the roof. Be that friend.