September 7, 2007
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
She walked into church on a dreary Sunday morning, her heart as dark as the gathering storm. She’d gotten into a fight with her husband just before leaving home, and in an angry, regrettable moment, stormed off without him. She found herself sitting alone, thinking she didn’t belong there.
He’d gotten laid off at work on Friday. No notice. No final paycheck. Just a “get your things and get going” announcement. He hadn’t told anyone yet; it was just too embarrassing. What was he going to do? How would he pay his rent? Were his employers right? Maybe he just couldn’t cut it. He’d come to church that day because there was nowhere else to go.
Look around you at any church service and you’ll see normal looking people. Their lives must be great, you think. They walk in with a smile and out with a smile. All the while, many of them are dying by increments on the inside. Despair, fear, anger, questions. Is this all there is? Does anybody care? Will someone love ME?
Our churches are filled with hurting people, carelessly tossed aside by someone during the week. Their hearts and minds reverberate with echoes of angry words spoken to them and unkind actions done to them. They walk into our churches and small groups with a filament of hope and a last-ditch prayer. What will they find?
Jesus saw beneath the surface of the plastic smiles, and stopped what He was doing to show people honor and respect. It wasn’t Jesus’ well-manicured conversations that did it; He didn’t seem to be a master of small talk.
What does this mean for us? Can we really love others like Jesus did? Can our churches and small groups reflect the life-altering community of God’s intent? Can we really make a difference to the “walking wounded” sitting next to us in church every week?
I think one of the ways we can get past surface relationships with others is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” This passage calls us past the neighbor level, past the acquaintance level, past the “just friends” level, and up to familial devotion. It calls us to look at those around us and consider how we can honor them with our time and attention, as we would our brother or sister.
This isn’t easy in our busy lives. Yet this Scripture holds the promise of the creation of a loving family of believers here on earth - a family that values and honors each other. That sounds like a place I want to spend the rest of my life creating. I guess I’ll need to spend a little more time with the woman sitting next to me this Sunday.
Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for loving me just as I am. But I need help to love my Christian brothers and sisters just like they are. Help me to love like
You love. Examine me and show me areas that need Your attention. I long to have the heart of Christ for others. In Jesus name, Amen.
Welcome to Community: Experiencing Life the Way God Intended by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer
Commit this week at church to talk to someone you don’t know. This is a good first step to breaking down the unseen barriers that can exist between Christian brothers and sisters.
Why would God want us to love each other as brothers and sisters?
What keeps you from reaching out more to those who are hurting?
What changes can you make in your life so that you are able to love others as God would have you do?
Mark , “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (NAS)
Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (NIV)
Romans 15: 5-6, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105