Fruits of the Spirit: Love for Others

April 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  ~I John 4:11

“Ma’am, do you work here?”

The young man stood at the children’s check-in counter at church, looking a bit lost.  He was covered in tattoos, sporting a pair of baggy shorts and a white t-shirt.  His cross necklace was in context, but the size and length of both the cross and the gold chain necklace it hung from were more apropos for a rapper’s music video than a church service.

Surely he wasn’t talking to me.  I knew this for certain because a) I am most definitely not old enough to be a ma’am (in my head at least); and b) I didn’t work there, although the volunteer shirt I was wearing made me look like I did.

Oh, and also knew he wasn’t talking to me because c) he wasn’t someone I would normally talk to.

“Can you help me?” he asked.  Oh, dear, he was talking to me.

“Sure,” I replied outwardly, while inwardly groaning because he was keeping me from getting into church service.

He waved a slip of paper in front of his face.  It was the tear-off slip from the bulletin for prayer requests.  ”I can’t find a pastor or anyone to give this to.”

I looked around.  The information desk was all closed up; the pastors were all in service.  I was going to have to handle this.  ”I can take that for you.  I’ll get it to the right place.”

“Thank you,” he said.  ”I just…I just need…”  He started to cry.  ”I just need someone to pray for me.”

With that, he began to talk.  And I listened.  He was 21, had just returned from active duty in Iraq.  He told me about his worries about his girlfriend.  He talked about church, and how he wanted so badly to find a church where he not only fit in but where he could convince his girlfriend to attend with him.

I was totally, utterly, completely ill-prepared for this encounter.  I have a heart for serving others, but most of my ministry involves others who look like me.  I’m comfortable with other moms of young families.  I deal well with young women who I can mentor.

But this man – this young, young vet who has already seen much more of the world and war and violence and killing than I hope I ever have to – was not like me.  And if he hadn’t stopped me, if he hadn’t reached out, I would have ignored him.

And I would have missed the opportunity to be blessed.  Not bless someone.  I was blessed by the opportunity God gave me to be his ears, to listen to one of his children cry out.  Even if his child didn’t have one single thing in common with me.

It’s difficult to reach out to those who don’t look like us, who don’t think like us, who don’t act like us.  We let race and gender and age and stage & station in life build a wall we can behind.  Yet God calls us to love everyone, not just the people we choose to love.  He calls us to minister to them, to be a blessing to all we encounter.

To let ourselves be blessed by the opportunity to serve him.

Dear Lord, let me serve you today.  Give me the right words to say to someone who is hurting, or scared, or lost.  Help me to overcome my own shyness or inabilities.  I want to be a light for you, not just among those who look like me.  ~Amen.

Entry filed under: Bible study, Fruits of the Spirit.

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