This morning an interesting juxtaposition of thought happened to me. It went this way:
Last evening I had a friend from out of town stay with us, and after spending the day with her yesterday, this morning we had more great conversation. (Thanks Lala!)
I also read in my daily devotional this sentence: "The Christian faith is community. The invitation of the community of faith is to learn of Christ and to implement that learning." (Dorothy Watson Tatum)
Later that morning I attended a funeral for a well-beloved woman from our community.
Now, you may be asking me what does one of these have to do with the other. I sometimes ask myself a similar question when these really strange thoughts come up.
I was sitting in the funeral listening to the preacher talk about how this woman always called everyone "kid" and he often wondered when he would reach grown-up status. Personally she called me "sugar" all the time. He talked about the smiles she always had for everyone. She worked at the local grocery store/diner for a week shy of thirty years. She knew everyone, and according to the preacher, always found something good about everyone, she just had to dig a little with some!
As I was listening to the stories of community, friends and family (what a huge family!) that surrounded this woman, and how love was a theme in her life, my mind started to tie these things together. We who claim the name Christian often forget that important part of our faith. Jesus tells us that we will be known (as Christians) by our love for one another. Of course it is easy to love the "Lalas" in our lives, those we love to share time and stories with, those whom we welcome into to our homes and hearts. But what about those people we do not know as well? Do we live our lives in such a way that God's love is shared with all we meet? And then what about those that we do know, and quite frankly, do not like? Maybe they do not think like us or maybe they (as my Aunt Ludy would put it) have been 'ugly' to us. Do we live our lives in such a way that God's unconditional love is shared with all we meet? Then there are those who are fellow Christians...fellow travelers on the journey of faith...but maybe we have theological differences. Can we agree that we see things differently and be known as followers of Christ because we show love and acceptance despite our differences?
As Dorothy Watson Tatum put it, we are to invite others to learn about Christ and then facilitate that learning. Are we inviting others (seemingly to mean all others) to "learn about Christ?" Or are we only inviting those that are easy, those like us, those with similar socioeconomic status or those we feel we can 'rescue?' Are we facilitating their learning, or promoting our own agendas?
Of course, we are to be known by our love for each other and we feel that we exemplify this Christian quality, but I would invite you to look deeper, to question yourself as this interesting juxtaposition of thought has invited me to do as well.