READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l We all need a safe space. For children and youth especially, it is integral to their mental health to find a safe space to share. A safe space gives people the confidence they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm. The apostle Paul describes life in community as living in the freedom that Christ gives and using that freedom to serve one another. We are to help one another in the struggles of life. (Gal 6)
Creating Safe Spaces
The purpose of safe spaces is for healing. If anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore them in a spirit of gentleness. By bearing one another’s burdens, we fulfil the law of Christ. (Gal 6: 1-2) When we create a safe space for others, healing begins –the purpose is restoration and not punishment.
Besides a healthy physical environment, we also need a spiritual setting that is safe for us to be who we are. When we feel unsafe there is a fight or flight response. This undermines authentic conversations. A big barrier to sharing is the fear of being judged. Often, people experiencing a crisis bottle up their feelings and avoid the church for the fear of being judged. The church then fails to be a safe space of healing and restoration.
A safe space is important. It provides a break from judgement, unsolicited opinions and having to explain yourself. It allows people to feel supported and respected, especially minorities and marginalised groups. Christians are to share all burdens. This is one way of fulfilling the law of Christ to love our neighbours. The world is in need of so much healing. We have a lot to process and we can only do it in safe spaces.
Everyone needs a safe space to share what is in their hearts. We can be a safe space for others if we are willing to let God’s healing work through us. Let us speak with gentleness. When the Spirit of Christ is evident in difficult conversations there is healing in Christ. Instead of judging we can show compassion and learn to be good listeners.
The posture for safe spaces is humility. (Gal 6:3-5) While we help others bear the heavy burdens of life, there are also personal responsibilities we must carry for ourselves. We are to care for one another. If we refuse to share others’ burdens, we are deceiving ourselves because no one is self-sufficient. It takes humility for one to be willing to receive support and to humbly recognize that we are vulnerable to temptation and are dependent on the grace of God. We need to examine ourselves to see if we are walking according to the Spirit and test our actions with God’s word based on the Spirit’s prompting.
Do not lose heart in doing good. If we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit we will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary of doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time if we do not give up. (v 6-10) Let us put our heart to doing good and be consistent in doing so. If we persevere in sowing we can expect to reap a harvest. It always produces good results if we do not lose heart. There is an urgency to do good whenever we can and to whomever we can. When we work for the good of all, the eschatological harvest will be even greater.
We are called to be a healing community in an unforgiving world. Only God can make us a new creation in Christ. “There is no holiness, apart from social holiness”. (John Wesley) He was talking of discipleship in the context of real relationships. Would you take the next step to be part of a small group community? How can I be a safe space for others? We can fulfil the purpose of healing when we come with a posture of humility and give God the priority of the heart.
(Sermon notes by Denis Koh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. Read Galatians 6:1-10
2. Galatians 6:1 is an example of a burden being borne.
a. What guidelines does Paul give?
b. How do you apply these today?
3. Creating Safe Space
a. Purpose: Healing (v1-2) – What are some practical steps you can take to express love and support for your fellow Christians?
b. Posture: Humility (v3-5) – How do we help fellow believers bear their burdens in a gentle and loving manner, without downplaying the seriousness of sin or being arrogant ourselves?
c. Priority: Heart (v6-10)
i. Paul’s final few instructions are linked by the common theme that we reap what we sow. Discuss the ways in which Galatians 6:6 is relevant for you
ii. Are there areas in which you find yourself growing weary in doing good (v9)? What does Paul say to encourage us?
iii. Sometimes when we do good, there does not seem to be any visible effect or reward. Think of some ways to deal with the situation when you grow weary of doing good.
4. Share what steps you can intentionally take to be A Safe Space For Others.
5. Pray for one another.