Day 26: Flat

Read: John 15:12-17

I only learned his first name: Lawrence. He had been a homeless veteran for years. He had no family and was slowly coming to the realization that he had no people in his life he could call friends. The sad thing was that the people in his life he was realizing were not good friends were part of the Church.

He stopped a friend of mine and me on our way to church one cloudy Sunday morning and said he made a promise once that, if he was ever going to walk away from the faith, he would sit with someone who might be able to reason him back into believing. Two people had turned him down already, so we were his third and final attempt.

We allowed ourselves to be pulled into a conversation with Lawrence. We sat down in the open plaza area of my college and listened as Lawrence gave the Cliff Notes version of his story. He took off his prosthetic leg and explained how he had found hope in the Gospel of Jesus. He used theological terms as he shared that he was not visited once while in the hospital for months due to his leg.

When he finished, it was clear that his doubts were not the real issue and he knew it. What was really eating away at his faith was the bitterness towards the fact that the body of Christ, fellow Christians, were not there for him during his darkest moments of losing his leg to an infection. Sadly, I could not offer him anything better than an apology.

After finishing his story, he decided to ask my friend and I if, between the two of us, we could put together $385 so that he could go to Colorado, get back on his feet, and pay us back. An ugly shadow of suspicion suddenly covered his entire testimony and I could almost see all the words I had said until then fall to the ground, flat.

This story is not a happy one. We couldn’t help Lawrence. We also can’t say for sure that Lawrence would’ve been trustworthy had we been able to help him. As we stood up and walked to the car to drive to church, it started raining and Lawrence walked to the closest roof cover he could find.

Even though we couldn’t help Lawrence ourselves, we ought to ask why his church didn’t. Even though she may seem like it at times, the Church is not a social club. She’s a missional organization that has existed since the resurrection of Jesus to love those around her. She has been appointed to go and live out Jesus’ command in John 15. Jesus says in verse 12 that His command for His followers is that they love one another. He says again in verse 17 that His command for believers is for them to love one another.

If you are a Christian, you are part of the body of believers we call the Church. You are more than just an individual. Jesus did not command one person alone to love others, but for all of us to love each other. We need to lean into the body of believers, participating in and building it up. There should not be stories like Lawrence’s because Lawrence is part of the bigger Christian community. Let us not forsake other Christians who are hurting, but rather come alongside and support each other.

Let this be a conviction to love others in any tangible way you can, big or small. Christ came to us in our greatest need, so may we not fail others in theirs. Pray that God will give you an opportunity today to love someone in action. At the end of the day, share with a friend the opportunity that God provided you and celebrate in it.

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