Our Sunday Bible Class met for dinner at Cracker Barrel last night. With the rain and wind, we didn’t expect everyone to show, but we had 45 people in attendance! You can only imagine the delight on the manager’s face and the horror on the waiter’s. We had to split up in to smaller groups, but we still had a nice opportunity to meet new people.
Starting the process of developing new friendships is never easy, but it is necessary. The comfortable thing to do is to show up on Sundays and slip out unnoticed, but this mindset is a far cry from believers in the early church: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42, 46-47
One thing Brian and I realized while visiting a number of churches this summer was that many, if not most, people are in their “own little world”. They’re not seeking out newcomers – they’re seeking exit signs or known faces instead.
Jesus says in John 13:34,35: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Do those in the family of God feel loved in your presence and mine? Not just our group of friends, but unknown faces? Do they feel cared for? Sometimes this involves a simple hug, a sincere “hello”, or prayer. At other times, love is expressed purely through our motivations when the words are not easy to hear. As mature believers, we shouldn’t be the ones waiting to be loved by others… we should constantly be looking for those God puts in our path to love.
So what’s love got to do with it? Everything. According to John 13, our willingness to love others is directly correlated to our identification in Christ. In Acts 2, we see what can happen when the Church acts like the Church and not a social club… those without a relationship with Christ will be drawn to Him, saved by Him, and added to the Church.
If only we, as believers, could grasp the significance found in refusing comfort in exchange for love.