“Everyone is from somewhere else!” A wise man
He really didn’t fit in. The members of the congregation noticed this strange man sitting at the back. He was dressed in simple clothes, appeared to be friendly but nobody approached him aside from a few kids who shyly shook his hand. He’d be coming to the worship services for a few weeks and seemed to enjoy it. Nobody knew who he was.
We often shy away from strange looking people or those with different accents or languages. Perhaps it is an overactive self-defense mechanism or maybe just a fear that we wouldn’t understand the person. People even become very annoyed when foreigners introduce themselves or try to be friendly. It’s almost as if some folks don’t want the world to change.
Yet, Christians are commanded to be hospitable. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome to practice hospitality. Yes, people are different. Yes, it might be awkward at first. Yes, we might look a little foolish and make mistakes. But at one time, we were all foreigners to God. We all sinned and were separated from God’s blessings. Yet, someone welcomed us into the fold and made us feel welcome.
So, I guess it’s our turn, huh?
“Everywhere in Judea, Galilee and Samaria, God’s people had a time of peace. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the group became stronger and stronger. The believers showed that they respected the Lord by the way they lived. Because of this, the group of believers grew larger and larger.”
Acts 9:31 (Simple English Bible)
John was constantly teased at work because he was a Christian and stood by God’s values. Most of his co-workers mocked him because he regularly studied the Word and prayed. John never argued nor protested the unfair treatment, practical jokes and other pranks played on him. He didn’t try to convert anyone or preach.
There was a fire in the factory. As the alarms rang loudly, everyone vacated the buildings and waited for the fire department to respond. Someone noticed that the janitor wasn’t anywhere in the crowd. No one dared go into the factory except John. People looked on anxiously as the minutes went by and no one came out. Just as the fire trucks turned into the gates, John came out, leading the elderly janitor who’d fallen and injured his face. When he was asked why he went back into the building, John said that he’d hoped that if it were him stuck inside that one of his co-workers would help. The fire was extinguished very quickly.
John’s colleagues treated him differently after that. They respected what he’d done and the way he’d taken action. John didn’t say much but after awhile, people started asking him about his faith in Christ and how he respected his Father in Heaven by continuing to serve God despite the jabs and mocking.
Like John, we proclaim Jesus by living for Him.
“Instead, every day comfort one another while it is still ‘today’ so none of you will become stubborn because sin has fooled you.” Heb 3:13 (Simple English Bible)
It was a wedding fight that threatened to turn into a disaster. Joan and her parents wanted the ceremony performed by her older brother, Willy, who had just been released from prison on parole. Willy was a former pastor who’d embezzled church funds and run away with a friend’s wife. Joan’s husband-to-be, Grant, wasn’t comfortable with the arrangement. He felt Willy had no business to perform the wedding. As the time drew nearer, Joan and Grant fought tooth and nail with Joan’s folks threatening to call the whole thing off.
Stubbornness can wreck our faith and balance. Especially if we’re being threatened or intimidated. We can even defend a bad attitude or action just because we don’t want to ‘give in’ and appear weak. And threats foster counter-threats, eventually anger and resentment. The writer of Hebrews has sound advice: comfort and help one another right away.
If we are loving and understanding towards one another, our attitude is one of helpfulness. We try to resolve a potential problem before entrenched positions start a war of words. Christ’s love should be our primary motivating factor. Because we belong to Him, not to ourselves.
PS Joan and Grant never got married.