Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

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 Let me share a joke I just heard, about burden-bearing:
A child came home from Sunday School and told his mother that he had learned a new song about a cross-eyed bear named Gladly. It took his mother a while before she realized that the hymn was really "Gladly The Cross I'd Bear."

I'm quite discouraged. Another long-time member of my parents' church recently (just last week) referred to helping my Dad as "babysitting". I wonder if that's the predominant attitude about all this, as though Dad's heart, mind and soul are already lost, and it's just a crazy man who can't be by himself.

I'm just at the point where I don't know what to think anymore. So often it seems that we fit right into the James 2:15-16/1 John 3:17 scenario. So many people tell us they'll pray for us, but I wonder whether they actually do pray, and what they *really* think about my parents and our situation. And regardless of all that, their prayers are not backed up with tangible support anyway.

And I'm not talking about people who are burdened down with their own major struggles, but about those I've seen who do have the time to help but choose to spend it on watching television, going to the movies, hanging out with friends, playing video games, and so on. I just don't see how this is compatible with the Christian's calling in Romans 12 (v. 10-16). It's like the Christian life can so easily be compartmentalized... being spiritual and prayerful at church gatherings is fine, but then holding onto our "right" to fun, leisure and entertainment is also acceptable - even celebrated, because "God created fun" and we "deserve" it. How can the Body of Christ carry on this way without first making sure all of our members are cared for (1 Cor. 12:22-26/Gal. 6:9-10)?

I have no problem admitting that I used to be that way before my parents fell into this mess. Our struggle to find help revealed much selfishness and darkness in my own heart. But now that I've woken up to this in my own life, how do I live out Hebrews 10:24? I just wish the mature believers in our churches would realize it in themselves too, take that step of faith, turn their lives around and *truly* die to themselves every day the way Christ calls us to. Not just for my parents' sake, but for the sake of their relationship with God, and for all of the other people who could potentially be comforted and supported if only more of us Christians lived out the "always" in 1 Thess. 5:15.

How many of us praying, well-intentioned Christians are cross-eyed bears, and how many of us actually bear one another's burdens? How many of us truly bear the cross?

This is just my ongoing frustration with the culture of Christianity in North America as a whole. We're a long way off from Acts 2:44-47 these days, and I wish I knew how to help change that somehow.