Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve

As Christians, we're told to "Love your neighbor as yourself." Sometimes that's easier said, than done. It's not always easy to set aside your wants, wishes, time, self, to do what can be done to help your neighbors. Sometimes things get in the way when we want to help or do for another in Christian love.
And let's face it, sometimes we're just plain selfish.

I've recently moved here to the Bible belt. I was a Christian before I got here, and I believe that I've seen all manner of behavior among Christians that I've been associated with over the years. I'm not perfect either, and I'm ashamed to say that, at times, my example of love has probably left others scratching their heads. Loving is not emotions, it is a choice, and it's obedience to God's Word.

This area of the world God led us to is hurting badly in this economy. I suppose that's true of most places right now, but there is less money here than in a lot of other places and a high unemployment rate. There are multitudes who rely on food pantries to feed their children, or on the goodness of others to provide bare essentials that most of us take for granted. There are high numbers of people living on disability checks due to health issues. But, in spite of all the obstacles, this area astounds me with the giving to one another. People with little open their arms to those with less. Those with less offer to help in other ways, and nearly everyone offers their prayers for you, no matter what else they have or haven't got.

We recently had a heavy snowfall, only 4" where we live, but it was enough to cause the power (read no lights, heat, stove, hot water, or telephone) to go out for 18 hours. We were fine, even with a few inconveniences, but there were others who were not as fortunate. When the power came on again, I noticed a phone call on the voice mail. It was from a woman at the church we've just begun to visit, calling to be sure we were ok, and to offer us the use of a shower, a few hours of heat or the use of her freezer if we needed it. Another, finding we'd had no power, scolded me for not bringing my mother and ourselves over to spend the night, or the full time without power.

These examples are such a few of so many we've seen since we've been here. People are truly concerned for the welfare of other people. They are living, breathing, examples of stepping outside of themselves and showing love toward their neighbors and even strangers. I am blessed to be a part of a community such as this.

What a ministry there is in reaching out to those in need, whether it be a ride to a doctor, a meal, volunteering at a charity organization, or a face to face interaction with someone you might otherwise not involve yourself with. How many opportunities there are to show the love of Jesus that we claim we possess! We do not know how one random act of kindness might change another life. But, the Lord knows...and He gives us these opportunities to practice what we say we believe.

We've so often heard that we shouldn't wear our heart on our sleeve. Do you know, when Jesus is in your heart, I think it's really alright to do just that.