People will see Jesus through our love, action for others
By D. Clay Perkins
Saturday, January 20, 2018
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:35 (The Bible, New International Version)
The preacher was concerned about this convert. So, for whatever reason, he decided at this baptism by immersion, he would hold him under just a little longer. And then when the new believer came up out of the water, the preacher decided to ask, “Did you see Jesus?” A little dazed and confused, the convert said, “No sir.” “Then let’s do it again,” said the preacher and down he went into the watery grave of baptism. Again, when he came up out of the water, the preacher asked, “Did you see Jesus?” “No, sir.” “Then let’s do it again,” said the preacher and this time he held him down, even a little longer. Again and again, another forceful plunge, and then the same question with the same answer. When the convert came out of the water yet again coughing and gasping for air, he heard the question again from the energetic preacher, “Did you see Jesus?” “Woah, wait preacher,” said the half-drowned convert. “If you’ll tell me which side he went in on, then maybe I will see him this time.”
While we chuckle at this story, I wonder if we are like this preacher. Do we have people looking for Jesus in the wrong place? Have we forgotten we are to be the hands of God? Do we move with compassion for all people? We must be Christ-like in all that we do in order for others to see Christ in us.
Yes, of course our doctrines, the teachings of the church, are to be sound. The practice of our sacraments is essential to our faith. We need to clearly understand the Word (2 Timothy 2:15). We need to be able to give others a logical and compassionate reason for the faith that we have (1 Peter 3:15). The truth found in the Word does not change from generation to generation (1 Peter 1:25). Right thinking comes from sound doctrine. But maybe people need to be immersed in our kindness, not just inundated with our words. Let’s remember to preach Jesus in all that we do, and, when necessary, to use words. (A thought, by the way, credited to Francis of Assisi.)
As the church collectively, let’s continue to build medical centers around the globe. Let’s continue going to hopeless and desperate areas to offer healing. And let’s continue to be the leader in disaster relief abroad. The church is the world leader in humanitarian aid. Continue to give generously to fund the care of the homeless and the hungry.
In our zeal for global compassion, let’s not forget to love those right beside us. Our neighbors, our co-workers, our families, those we attend church with … they all need us. Far too often in our drive to share Jesus with those around the globe we barely even acknowledge those we meet on a daily basis. People around you need a kind word daily. They need a soft touch of compassion. You will never know how much a simple act of kindness can mean to a person. You do not know the pain they carry. You do not know the void in their lives. People that you come in contact with every day need you.
One day a lady told me that I “saved her.” That really confused me, since I was barely remembering her name. So I asked, ‘What do you mean?’ She told me a story of how a few years ago, I came in late to a service at church and asked if I could sit beside her. At that stage in her life she felt so unloved and so far from God that she was not even sure why she was at church. As she told the story, I remembered the event. We barely exchanged a few words. But for her, having a minister sit beside her, having someone speak kindly to her was validating. For me, it was a routine “hello,” a simple greeting. But to her, it was healing. We never know how even the simplest act of kindness will help others.
So remember, people will know Jesus by the love you have for others as you go through life. Help that neighbor. Be kind to strangers. Love deeply, even when loving kindness is not returned. Forgive, even when you are in the right. Look for opportunities to do good to others. And just maybe, when you ask the question, “Did you see Jesus?” those around you will say, “Yes!”
D. Clay Perkins is an adjunct professor at Mid-Atlantic Christian University.