I recently read about a preacher, who when it was his time to get up and deliver the message, sat in his front-row seat for what seemed like five minutes while the stage was empty. Finally, he left his seat, made his way up to the pulpit, and said, “Love one another.” He then proceeded to go back and sit down in his chair. People were looking at each other and then looking in his direction, wondering if that was it and what was happening. After a few minutes, he again got out of his seat, went to the pulpit, and said, “Love one another.” And, again, he went back to his front-row seat. Again, people grew restless, not really knowing what to do. And, yet again, the preacher got out of his front-row seat, made his way up the stairs to the stage, walked over to the pulpit, and simply said, “Love one another.”
After this third time, people started asking, “What does he mean? What is he talking about?” One guy stood up and said, “I think he means that I need to get to know you (pointing to someone sitting near him). I have been coming here every week and sitting a few seats down from you and don’t know you.” And, at that, the man introduced himself to this person he didn’t know. Someone else stood up and said, “I think he means that I am supposed to make things right with you (pointing to someone in the church that she had a rift with).” And the lady left her seat to go over and make peace with her one-time friend.
Person after person was getting out of their seat and exclaiming what he or she thought the preacher was talking about and started making plans, making amends, and truly getting to know their brothers and sisters in Christ.
I honestly don’t know where I read that story, but as I read it and contemplated it, I was reminded of the instruction of Jesus to his disciples on the night he was betrayed. After washing the disciples’ feet in John 13, down in verses 34 and 35 He said, “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. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”
I was also reminded about this story as I considered the state our world is in. In Acts chapter two we saw how God made his church favorable to the people outside of the church as they were generous with each other and loved each other. Today, as much as ever, we have the opportunity to show the world who the church really is by how we love. Let’s do it well!