A few weeks ago we visited a church that two of our daughters attend. We were sitting toward the back and there were several open seats in front of us as often happens with an earlier service. A couple of minutes before the service started a father herded his three daughters into the seats a couple of rows in front of us. I was immediately blessed to see a father taking the time to bring his children to church.
As the worship started and we all stood, a woman came hurrying down the aisle. She slipped past the father and squeezed in between two of the daughters. What followed was like a beautiful homecoming without the shouts of joy or streamers in the air.
The daughters immediately threw their arms around the mother to hug her as she hugged them back and kissed them. The father leaned past the girls and gave her a hug, never removing his arm as he straightened. Throughout the rest of the service the whole family continued to touch one another. Between hugs or just hands on one another’s back, they stayed connected in such a beautiful display of love it brought tears to my eyes.
My thought was that the mother had been gone and just returned home in time to join her family in church. I spoke with her afterwards and she said she’d been helping out elsewhere before the service and that her family just loved to show affection. I told her what a blessing they were to me, and what a picture they were of how we are to be as Christians. We both ended up a little teary as we chatted.
I haven’t been able to get that family out of my thoughts. I keep seeing their utter joy at being together and thinking of how I interact with my Christian family. I do not interact in a way that brings joy to those around me.
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, loveone another fervently with a pure heart…” I Pet. 1:22
That word fervently carries the meaning of earnestly or strenuously. It’s an action. Like the hugging and touching of this family in church, we are to actively love one another. Maybe not with hugs and touching as they were doing, but in other ways that are just as meaninggul. How often do we go to church and exchange banalities that are instincive while never knowing the underlying needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
I know I am guilty of this. And God is stressing to me that I need to make an effort to have a deeper relationship with those in my church. Will it be easy? No. I live quite a distance away. I’m not good at relationships or friendships. Will it be worth it? Yes, because God is asking and He always has a purpose for what he requests.
I know the family I saw in my daughters’ church has moments that are difficult. They’ve had to work to develop the close relationship they have. But the beauty of what they show the world around them is worth the struggle.
I challenge each of you to join me as I commit to work fervently to establish deeper relationships with others in church or in the community where I live. We must love others as God loves us. Then, without a word, the world will see God through our love for one another.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love oneanother. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35