1 John 4:20-21(NIV): “20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
We must be sure that as disciples of Christ that we are doing our duty to be Christ-like. This duty includes being loving, compassionate, and long-suffering towards others. Too often do we proclaim to be ambassadors of Christ but fail to be active listeners and sympathetic toward our brothers and sisters-in-Christ and more importantly, sinners. Remember, Christ came back for sinners not for the righteous (Mark 2:17).
1 Corinthians 13:1(NIV): “1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
There is a female who attends my home college who has for the past 3 years been viewed as one of the most serious Christ followers in our female population. As a new believer I didn’t necessarily wear a I serve Jesus sign on my shirt but if my relationship with Him came up, I was more than happy to share the story of how I gained salvation. This female and I would constantly bump into each other so one day I decided to say hello to her. To my surprise she walked right by me, as if I wasn’t even there. I didn’t think much of it until it was a constant pattern–me taking an initiative to say hello and her looking down or away trying to avoid saying hello back. About a month later we happened to both be at a Christian event on campus. She made a comment along the lines that she didn’t know that I was believer. I couldn’t help but think about how fake I thought she was. And yes, since that day she rushes to greet me. But why did I have to be a believer for her to speak to me? What if I was still a sinner desperately in need of hearing the Gospel?
Hebrews 13:2(NIV): “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Christian cliques formed around only believers are not Christ-like. Cliques stunt spiritual growth and furthermore ignore the purpose of the Kingdom’s business. As servants of God we are supposed to be the light of the world and the salt that preserves the earth but we cannot reach our full potential if we are not effectively engaging in healthy and Godly relationships with others. A pure and genuine relationship with our neighbors must be founded in love. 1 Corinthians 13:4(NIV):“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” The Bible gives us specific instructions about how to be Christ-like and the characteristics we ought to aspire to obtain.
While I usually speak to people who are close enough to hear me, God showed me something else about myself. He showed me that as many people as I talked with, that I sometimes didn’t mention Him at all. I mean for Him to be my Everything, He ought to come up at least every now and again, right? Basically God was telling me that there shouldn’t be a question whether I serve Him as my actions and conversation ought to be a reflection of Him. The next thing God led me to think about was how had I received wisdom yet didn’t seek to share it with others? Why wasn’t I sharing what I knew? So from that day I decided to go forth and spread the Gospel.
My freshman year in college there was a cafeteria worker who stood out to me. She appeared to have maybe gone through some rough circumstances but regardless always appeared so peaceful when I saw her. At my school at least, we don’t spend too much time interacting with workers who aren’t professors. I couldn’t figure out why I kept feeling led to talk with her but then unsaved, I brushed the idea off and forgot about it. The end of freshman year I felt led to give this cafeteria worker some cards with Scriptures on them that had been passed down to me from my Grandmother after she died from breast cancer. I kept telling myself that I would give the lady the cards but before I knew it, the semester was over and the lady was gone. I wasn’t saved so I didn’t care too much. I even began to question if I was just having one of my “caught up in my feelings” moments. I didn’t see the woman again until the first semester of my junior year. To make a long story short, I somehow sparked a conversation up with this lady only for her to tell me that she didn’t remember me. As we continued to talk she told me about some issues she had been experiencing so I decided to print out some of these articles for her. I hadn’t told her I was the author for a while until she began to ask where she could get more articles. I didn’t mention being the author because I know that isn’t important but once I told her, that opened the door for us to talk about Christianity more. The woman thought I was merely finding stuff online and giving it to her, which caused her to not really engage in conversation about specific issues she was facing. After that moment we would meet each day in the cafeteria and talk about God. She would come over to me, acting like she was cleaning my table as I shared Scriptures with her. I would print articles as often as I could and gave them to her so that she could read them on the bus going home or during her lunch break. And I prayed with her for her and her family whenever her supervisor was away busy doing something. I wasn’t taking her from her work but she didn’t want to appear to be doing nothing. Before I knew it she would be waiting for me at dinner time, excited to talk about the goodness of the Lord. It was an amazing feeling to be able to be used by God as only a 20-year-old for a woman is well in her 40s. Before I knew it her supervisor was coming up to me stating that she wanted what I had; that she wanted salvation. Her supervisor said that she isn’t a part of a church so she is unable to receive salvation and I told her that when she was ready, that we could pray right there in the cafeteria as Christ has no ordained place for us to accept Him as our Lord and Savior.
As the semester got closer to ending, prayer with this lady became a regular part of our lives. She even shared with me her most personal and difficult struggles as I would go home to pray for her and bring back Scriptures that God had put on my heart to share with her. And guess what? The last day of classes God reminded me to give her the cards with the Scriptures on them. I ran to my room and asked God to give me a mind to give her every verse that He knew she could receive. When I ran back downstairs to give her the cards she looked at me, trying to hold back tears and hugged me for what felt like 3 hours..although I am sure it was more like 1-2 mins. She was sharing her gratitude. There I was in the middle of the cafeteria, while students were trying to figure out what was going on, and I stood hugging a woman who had known Christ at a very young age but who had given up hope after being trampled by every sin you could think of. But the light of Christ that dwells within me was able to draw her nigh, leading her to come back to her Father. She went from referencing God as merely a memory to being active in church, reading her Bible regularly, praying, fasting, and seeking fellowship with other believers. All of this is so wonderful that it makes me wonder….what if I didn’t speak to my neighbor?
1 Corinthians 14:22-35 (NIV): “22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”