September 12, 2008
"Pulling an Assisi"
by Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Entertainment Editor
"Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words."
— Saint Francis of Assisi
Whenever I read or hear the above quote by St. Francis of Assisi, I naturally think of myself first. Ahem.
But, of course, it's not because I am the poster child for this way of living. Hardly. It makes me think of how my actions often do not point others to Christ.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Truth be told, after reading these verses, I feel like there's no way I could ever do all of this. How can I possibly achieve all of these life instructions? Or, at the very least, how can I live out just one of these today?
The Lord knows that without him, without the power of the Holy Spirit, I cannot do this on my own. And so I take comfort after reading Philippians 2:1-2:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
When I empty myself of me, I make way for God to go to work. And it is only by the Holy Spirit working through me, and working through you, that we are able to live like this. He knits us to himself, and he knits us together as the body of Christ.
While we're here on earth, I also think it is natural for us to look to other believers as examples of those who "preach the gospel at all times" and "if necessary, use words." These are people who seem to have "effortlessly" discovered how to really empty themselves of themselves. Among other things, they're people who:
- Open their homes and welcome anyone without prejudice
- Have made personal, countercultural sacrifices to draw closer to God
- Spread hope because their lives have been radically transformed
- Admit their weaknesses so that others may see Christ at work
- Give others the benefit of the doubt before judging
- Make sure others are recognized first for their gifts and efforts
- Accept (not reject) those with whom they disagree
- Love the unlovely and befriend the outcasts
- Don't boast about themselves or their achievements
- Remember others in prayer and continually encourage
- Do what they say they will do and don't make excuses
- Seek to make amends first, no matter who is at fault
- Make time for people, even if it means rearranging their schedules
Do you know someone who lives like this? It's encouraging to witness, isn't it? These individuals are the ones who draw us together and point us to Christ.
Yes, they are far from perfect, but they are consistently offering their lives as a sacrifice of praise and are being used by God. They are preaching the gospel. And they, without words, are "pulling an Assisi."
Intersecting Faith & Life: Call your church office to see if a single mother or a widow has requested assistance. Or ask your elderly neighbor what he or she needs. Then, give as you are able by opening your wallet or by making an appointment on your calendar to help out.