Love Challenge!

The Holy Spirit’s hitting me over the head this week with a message for you and for me. We’ve heard the message before. We hear it, understand it, attempt to implement it, and yet, because of our sinful and selfish hearts, continually fall short of success.

Interest peaked? What’s this message she’s referring to?

It’s a basic Christian principle: show the love of Christ to others.

Oh, that one…it’s a doozy right? It’s easy to show His love to our family and friends. We love them; we like them. It’s easy to show His love to those who are like-minded and look like me. Familiar is comfortable. I can feel pretty good about myself when I’m showing Christ’s love to these familiar, comfortable people.

This gets tricky when we are put in unfamiliar and challenging situations that push our limits of comfort.

Here are a few examples from my week:

1. There’s a story being circulated on Facebook this week, maybe you’ve seen it. A pastor is called to a new, large congregation. On his first Sunday, he arrives dressed as a homeless person. (Elders are in on the experiment.) During an entire donut/coffee fellowship and Sunday School hour, only two people say hello to him. He receives countless dirty looks, stares, and is ignored. When the service begins, he sits in the front pew and is actually asked to move towards the back! After a few praise songs, an introduction is made and the new pastor is called to the front. Imagine the shock, embarrassment, and sadness in that sanctuary when the “homeless” pastor made his way to the pulpit.

2. On a recent episode of one of my favorite reality shows, a self-proclaimed Christian was interviewed by the camera crew. She was asked a few questions about a group of people who were different from her. Her response was a vindictive and raging, “I hate them.” My jaw hit the floor; she had never even met these people.

3. A former neighbor lost his wife a few weeks ago. She had been very sick this last year and the cancer eventually took her life. She leaves behind a husband and three teenage children. Police were frequently called to the house, the two sons sold marijuana in the street, and the profanity and screams coming from inside the home could be heard through our open windows. The father has a drinking problem and twice, drunkenly accused me of calling CPS on his family. Needless to say, they are the black sheep family on our otherwise Leave it to Beaver street.
I was talking with a few friends about her recent death. They felt bad for the husband, could see the loneliness and sadness on his face, but didn’t quite know what to do. The family has lived in the neighborhood for many years, but isolated themselves and were anything but neighborly. The husband doesn’t have any family or support system. His past actions, accusations of neighbors, and unfriendly manner now leaves the neighbors less than enthusiastic to reach out to him. How sad.

Matthew 25:35-40 comes to mind. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

God wants us to reach out to the broken, shamed, tossed aside, and forgotten. In fact, He expects us to. Christians are called to show the love of Christ to everyone, not just the people we deem worthy. Not a one of us is worthy…

Start today. Keep your eyes open and God will present you with an opportunity to practice showing Christ’s love in a unique situation. How will you bless someone today?

Your sister in Christ,
Jessica Brashear

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