by Kathy Lay
Verse of the Week: Romans 12:10--"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." (NIV)
I remember meeting Dustin that hot August morning on the first day of class. A whole new crop of excited college freshman were sitting in the classroom waiting for their new English class to begin. As the instructor, I always wanted to establish a relaxed, familiar environment on those first few days because I remembered how overwhelming college can be at first. One way I did this was to allow students to submit anonymously on a note card any question that they wanted to ask. Inevitably, through questions like “How do you spend your free time?” or “What are your hobbies?” the opportunity arose for me to share that I’m a Christian.
Dustin’s class was no different. I remember him coming up to me that day and saying how cool it was that I’m a Christian because he was too. As the semester progressed, we shared many God-conversations. But the one I remember most was when I asked him what church he attended. His response was, “Oh, I don’t do church. My relationship with God is between me and him and it’s no one else’s business.” I had no ready response for that and quite honestly, at his age I had felt about the same way. My Christianity had really been Kathianity at that point, as in “God, what will you do for me today?” if I even bothered to throw out that little prayer. I’d been saved, so that took care of it, right?
But I know better now.
Our community is currently grieving the loss of a young boy. When something tragic like this happens, we begin to ask questions... “Why, God?...How do we make sense of this?...How can we help the family?” I was talking with my friend, Missy, and she told me that as she prayed about the situation, she felt God saying, “Stand. Just stand.” We considered what all that might encompass...Stand in the gap for them praying. Gather and stand around them, like a hedge of protection. Stand back and watch what I, the Lord your God, will do.
And as Missy and I ended our conversation, it clicked for me...that is why we participate in the church body. To disregard that aspect of being a Christian is to miss the point of being a Christian, apart from being saved. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love, first the Lord, and then your neighbor (Matt. 22:36-39). And in 1 Peter, all Christians are reminded to “be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” (NLT)
And that, my friends, is why we “do church.” Even though the couple who lost their little boy attends a different church than I do, we belong to the same Body—that of Christ. That means being his hands raised in intercession for this family, being his feet running to their aid to meet physical needs, being his heart loving them so much that they feel peace and comfort in the midst of chaos and heartbreak, and being his head helping them iron out details and maybe even over time, begin to make some sort of sense of things.
I continued to see Dustin on campus from time to time after our semester together ended. He even bought our praise band’s CD. But I’d love to see him just one more time and ask him again which church he attends. This time I’d have a story to share.
Lord Jesus, we thank you that you use your church body to minister. What a privilege to be a part of that! Show us how to use our individual gifts and talents to reach out and be You to those who are hurting and in need. By the power in your name, Jesus, Amen.
Application: What are you really good at that you enjoy doing? Offer those talents to the church body in an effort to build others up.
*Deuteronomy 27:7 (NIV)—Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the LORD your God.
*I John 1:7 (NLT)—But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
*Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)—Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.