Author Terry Muck tells the story of a man who had no interest in spiritual things. He lived next door to a professing Christian, and they had a casual friendship, as neighbors across a fence might have. Then the non-Christian’s wife was stricken with cancer, and died three months later. Here’s part of a letter he wrote afterward:
I was in total despair. I went through the funeral preparations and the service like I was in a trance. And after the service I went to the path along the river and walked all night. But I did not walk alone. My neighbor–afraid for me, I guess–stayed with me all night.
He did not speak; he did not even walk beside me. He just followed me. When the sun finally arose over the river, he came over to me and said, “Let’s go get some breakfast.”
I go to church now. My neighbor’s church. A religion that can produce the kind of caring and love my neighbor showed me is something I want to find out more about. I want to be like that. I want to love and be loved like that for the rest of my life.
What made the difference in this man’s life? It was that one Christian dared to care enough to….be there.
It doesn’t take a tragedy for us to be of ministry to our neighbors, but often the Lord opens doors through difficult times for us to connect with those around us with the love of Christ. It might be doing relief work after a tornado, taking a meal to a sick neighbor, helping someone move, or even attending a funeral of a family member of a friend or co-worker. This is what Jesus meant when he answered the question, “Who is my neighbor?” with the parable of the Good Samaritan.
My prayer for our church family is that we would live out the Gospel and reflect the love of Christ in every divine appointment for ministry He provides, whether it be times of tragedy or just times of need, so that somehow through our witness, people would be attracted to the God we serve. And in doing so, I pray that we would catch a vision for serving the neighbors around us and love our neighbors in tangible ways.
Thanks to each of you who regularly live out the call of Christ to serve one another, and who make a difference in our community and in our congregation as His hands and feet in this world.