Will They Know Us By Our Love?
My wife, Jenell, has recently become friends with a couple nearby who own three horses. They allow her to come out a few times a week and feed and care for the horses, and in return allow her to ride with them for free. This, predictably, has brought my wife no shortage of joy, and while on our latest tour stop, I overheard her muttering how much she is missing the horses. Not our children, mind you. The horses.
During one of these riding outings, she got into a discussion with the guy who owns the horses about God, and it became pretty clear that he’s had a few bad experiences with the church and with Christians in the past. He then told my wife a very sad story…
Recently, while riding his horse through one of the local forest preserves, he stumbled upon a family that was “camping”. He struck up a conversation with them, and quickly realized that this family was homeless. He vowed internally to help them find a temporary home until they could get back on their feet, and began doing what he figured would be the most fruitful course of action. He began calling churches around the city to see if they could help this family. One by one, each church said no. He figured it was an anomaly, so he kept calling. Eight churches. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Every one, same answer. No. Sorry, we can’t help. One very big, very famous church in town went so far to tell him, when he finally blurted out his frustration, that if they help someone once, where will it end? So they just don’t do that sort of thing out of church policy.
This, of course, only helped cement his anger towards the church, and Jenell is doing all she can to try and explain that Christians don’t only care about themselves and their own churches. But obviously, this is no easy task. Thankfully, the man was able to find help for the family through a variety of local SECULAR businesses who all pitched in to find a place for them and help with the costs.
Look, Jesus described our calling and made it so painfully clear that even a child could understand: love God, love others. Everything else is gravy.
This massive tour I just did took me to a wide variety of churches around the world, and it was interesting to say the least. Some were absolutely incredible, loving, helpful, and filled with joy to serve. Others were, quite frankly, awful to work with. As I’ve spoken to various ministries and musicians over the years and we’ve exchanged the good, the bad, and the ugly of traveling around, one thing has consistently come up from nearly every band, ministry, or evangelist I’ve befriended. They all give me the same piece of advice: if you don’t have to rely on a church, don’t. As Majed El Shafie mentions in Father of Lights, when a church lives in a comfort zone, it doesn’t care about anything other than itself and its own survival.
While I realize this may be true way more than it should be, I also realize–because I have seen it with my own eyes–that there are also churches around the world (yes, even in the United States) that are looking outward instead of inward; that want to care for the lost and the broken hearted; that want to clothe and feed Jesus, even when it goes against their church policy.
I spent a lifetime being mad at the church; angry about all the double talk and hypocrisy I saw, yet I never bothered to look at my own double talk and hypocrisy. But now I feel I have been given new eyes to see with, and instead of a broken religion, I see the very bride of Christ, whom He is continually working with to try and make her even more beautiful than she already is. I often hear the accusation that “all Christians are hypocrites” as a rallying cry against Christianity. Let me be the first in line to say, “You are absolutely right, all Christians are hypocrites! That’s exactly why we need Jesus so badly.” The problem seems to come when we get so caught up in trying to build something for Jesus that we forget to become like Him.
They will know us by our love. Let’s make that statement a reality, shall we?