As I knelt in prayer, I felt two hands press on my shoulders and heard voices lifted to the Father on my behalf. It was a rich gift! Yes, that was yesterday in our Pastor’s Prayer Fellowship. In the days following the formal rites marking my Dad’s death, a mild depression has thrown itself over me. I know the signs – broken sleep patterns, irritability, lack of focus at work, a sense of futility. Meaningful prayer is difficult right now for me. So having these two brothers in Christ pray for me was like a medicine. Where my faith is weakened by life’s trials, Chris and Tim stepped in to hold me up!
How thankful I am for the Christian community. We must do all we can to form friendships that allow for the kind of support I received yesterday. We simply cannot allow ourselves to be just a weekly gathering for a seminar or a sing-a-long! We are family. Perhaps we oughta sing the Barney song (from the preschooler’s TV show featuring a big purple creature by that name) at every service. Just in case you don’t know the words, the song says, “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me, too?” Seriously, we have to find ways to turn our words about the love of Jesus and being the Body of Christ into genuine connection and affection for one another.
Jesus reminds us that what will distinguish His people in this world is not doctrinal purity, though it important. It is not sacred rituals, though we find those comforting. It is love. “By this will all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another!” John 13:35 He isn’t just talking about some sloppy sentiment that gets stirred up when the mood is right! He’s talking about caring for those who are hard to love, including the dysfunctional in our circle of friends. Jesus urges us to love everybody. Take a look. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (Luke 14:12-15, NLT)
Right now, life is hard for many, many people. Uncertainty over the future is an epidemic. Let’s draw together, refusing to be alone! Forget the “Lone Ranger” ideal. It’s idiotic, anyway; a sure way to ultimately fail, to die alone after a miserable existence. Love extravagantly. Take time to listen, to care, to empathize, to share what you have – as little as that might be. Others will see Jesus in you!
Wes Stafford tells about a visit to Haiti and his interaction with Jean Pierre, a little street kid. The lad sought him out and sincerelyl asked, “Mister, are you Jesus?” Wes tried to figure out where the question came from, what prompted it. Then he remembered seeing the boy shadowing him through the afternoon. Wes bought a bag of roasted peanuts from a street vendor and walked off leaving the change with her. On the next block he gave the peanuts to a beggar. Four or five times through the day, he had his shoes shined, as an excuse to engage in conversations with the invisible street people. He had his car ‘washed’ with filthy street water several time by children. He then admired their industry and offered profuse thanks and a generous tip. Jean Pierre watched it all and concluded that anyone who lived like that must be Jesus! – Hope Lives, Group Publishing, 2008
Go and love somebody today – in the name of Jesus!
Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand
Why we pull away from each other so easily,
Even though we’re all walking the same road.
Yet we build dividing walls
Between our brothers and ourselves.
The day will come when we will be as one,
And with a mighty voice together,
We’ll all proclaim
That Jesus, Jesus Christ is King.
It will echo through the earth;
It will shake the nations,
And the world will see,
See that you’re my brother, you’re my sister,
So take me by the hand.
Together we will work until He comes.
There’s no foe that can defeat us
When we’re walking side by side.
As long as there is love,
We will stand.
We Will Stand
Taff, Russ / Taff, Tori / Hollihan, James
© 1983 Word Music, Inc. (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)
CCLI License No. 810055