OK - so no surprise. I struggle with internalizing other people's problems and hurts. Even if I don't know them. I have a friend who tells me I need to stop. I need to set boundaries, because it effects me so much. I have a problem with that. I remember struggling with this about a year ago as I walked a labyrinth at a church retreat. On the surface it sounds good, and logical. I know a lot of churches spend a lot of time going through the Boundaries book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I understand why. I do. But that doesn't make sense to me in light of verses like Galatians 6:2. Or in light of Christ's example. He didn't set those boundaries and refuse to listen, refuse to meet people where they are, refuse to help. And, I don't think this just applies to friends and their problems. It applies to people in poverty, people at the receiving end of injustice, people who are ill - physically or mentally. This verse is the practical working out of the command to love your neighbor. So how can I possibly just sit back and let people struggle, even if it's just emotionally, or intellectually? No matter what their burden I have been told to help bear the burden. And in this way fulfill the law of Christ. So we need to go beyond asking who our neighbor is as the lawyer did in Luke 10 (the parable of the Good Samaritan), and say "what can I do to help?" God has entered into our messy lives, our problems, sins, and needs. He didn't hide behind a boundary. We, as followers of Christ, must be incarnational too - and I'm not sure how boundaries figure into this command.
I for one am glad that Jesus didn't set boundaries.....
Galatians 6:2Bear ye one another's burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ. (KJV)
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV)