I recently spent a weekend on the lake with an energetic bunch of swimmers, boaters, kayakers, and sun bathers from church. I came home with many fun memories and some sunburn marks from my swimsuit. Thinking back, there were many moments that changed the way my weekend played out, but one moment stands out as crucial. It actually came near the end. There was one guy who was out of sync with the group all weekend. His jokes were off-target, his activity preferences were solitary, and his attitude self-focused.
But it is what I did that I cannot stop thinking about. He was laying on a lounge chair as I walked by to tell him it was almost time to go. I bumped my head on a low beam, and he started laughing. I walked away without looking back.
And thinking back on the weekend, and the entire group’s response to this guy, I couldn’t help but think of some of Jesus’ final words to His disciples:
“34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13).
Some of my group thought this guy should have stayed home. We all adopted knowing tones of voice when we saw something odd lying around, “oh, it’s probably his.” For me, the moment I turned away from his laughter, angrily tossed my hair, and brushing him off, I snubbed him. I was proud to not be like him.
And how does Jesus treat me when I’m offbeat and insulting to Him? He does not appreciate it and orders me back in line, but He does it with love.
Could people tell we were Christians? Would the secular group on the other side of the fence have treated this guy differently than we did? Most likely. But their response would be clear, unbiased. I know mine was murky.
Being a Christian is a learning process. If the Church does not welcome people who are off-kilter, annoying, and out-of-it into the community of Christ, why would anyone want to follow Him? How do you act toward others when your guard is down and you are focused on something else?
God, I do not want to be a Christian for the bumper sticker. So I guess that means I will continue to be confronted by the defining moments of life. God, please help me to be aware of how You are at work in every moment, and help me to listen to Your lead. Please help me to learn to love like You love, and serve as You served. Thank You for a moment at the lake that taught me so much. To You be glory in every bit of progress! Amen.