Writing this post is difficult in some ways because it reminds me of many people I have known over the years in the Body of Christ who have modeled the Gospel for me. Many have long been in the presence of GOD by now, but I think of them often when I think of the community of GOD. But there are plenty alive and well, showing the gospel to me in different ways…often!
A kind man in our church
Mr. Umenhofer, a man who always greeted me kindly as a child. Yes, that was his real name. That wasn’t terribly common in my childhood. The 1950’s were a time when children were supposed to be seen and not heard. He would always shake my hand, look me in the eyes and call me by name. Isn’t it interesting that over 50 years later, I would still remember the kindness of someone on a regular basis? When our family gets together, our children remember the people in our churches who were kind to the too…and the ways they were kind. Sadly, they remember the unkind, sarcastic ones too. But I’m not talking about that today.
A Sunday School teacher who loved Jesus
There was Mrs. Raymond. She taught my Sunday School class in 6th grade. Her husband was not a Christian at the time. We prayed for him to become a Christian. Sometimes she was late to class and would be crying. Within a few years, he became a Christian!. It was real. She had children spread out in age. One daughter was in college when I was in 6th grade, a son was in high school and another daughter was in early elementary school. I remember how much Mrs. Raymond loved Jesus and us.
I also remember how she had some unusual ideas. She was convinced our nation was going to be punished for trying to go to the moon. She prayed against it. In prayer meetings, she frequently brought it up. I put her thoughts in the back of my mind. Maybe she was right. But we went to the moon and it seemed that not only did it work out well, there were many ways in which GOD was glorified in that action. I realized that some of the people in GOD’s community that I might love, might not be correct on every issue.
Over the years, GOD has used so many different people in the church communities where I have been a member or we have served, to minister to me in a positive way something of who GOD is.
Years later, there were many others I learned from as I watched them be examples in administration, prayer, love, patience, perseverance or simply a sense of humor. None were perfect or even wise in every area. They weren’t meant to be. GOD is the one meant to be there for that purpose. But He has people in this larger community placed to help me understand and see a glimmer of some of those other things I need to see.
They are as frail as I am. No one of them is meant to be followed with the same fervor I follow Jesus. God simply has them placed in my life to teach me a little more of what it looks like to be a real live Christian. Have there been people who were a negative influence? Certainly. But today, the emphasis is on those who have been helpful. They are certainly the majority by far!
Some of those people are now in heaven. But some of them are alive right now and I am in community with them now. They love me and I love them. Sometimes, things I say and do encourage them and lift them up. At other times, things they say and do lift me up. It is often mutual.
Even today, I experienced the care of some of them who had offered help if I needed it months ago. I hate to ask for help, but I needed help with a couple of bushes that needed a chain saw taken to them. I finally asked for help on one of our church facebook pages and this couple volunteered. The work was done in an hour or less. I was so grateful. They were glad to help. It seems that for some of us, it is just hard to ask for help when we are used to be the ones who help. What a blessing they were to me! It reminded me that I don’t allow others who offer help to help me if I stew and worry rather than actually ask. I’m slowly learning. Old dogs can learn new tricks especially if the Spirit is working in their hearts to change them.
Do you have times you make a point of celebrating the work GOD is doing through each other?
This Fall, I have been taking a class that is offered by Parakaleo. It is basically a class on practical theology. How does the theology we know, work out into our real life, everyday world? We have been learning diagrams and tools that are very practical and helpful. But one that I have enjoyed is pictured above today.
Ringing a bell when I see GOD at work through another person? What fun!
Is it possible that ringing a bell could help remind us of the joy of seeing God at work in our community through the life of each other? YES! It is a very small thing. But wouldn’t it be fun if we started ringing a little bell when we saw GOD working through another persons’ life around us? How hopeful to hear and see tangible signs that GOD is working. A jingle here, a little jingle there. Does it sound hokey? Maybe a little. But after awhile, it would be a source of joy as we realize GOD is working. We aren’t taking it for granted.
Ding-ding, Susan, I see GOD at work in your life as you are trusting Him to provide in new ways for you today rather than trying to manipulate and agonize. Ding-ding, Mary. Thanks for your willingness to step out of your comfort zone and ask a more personal question than you normally would. GOD used you to touch my heart and find a place I needed encouragement. Thanks. Ding-ding, Carolyn. Thanks for trusting God as you move through life one day at a time in the loss of your son. I know there are days when getting out of bed is difficult. Thanks for persevering on the good days and the bad ones. I know it is Jesus helping you during this difficult time.
Ding-ding. What is your comment?
How are you thankful for the community of GOD that you are now or have been part of that helps you see GOD at work in the community of GOD around you?
May the God of endurance and encouragement
grant you to live in such harmony with one another,
in accord with Christ Jesus,
that together you may with one voice
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:5-6 ESV
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:3-6 ESV