I remember distinctly one such outing making a simple grocery run. I was minding my own business, doing my own thing. In and out. I didn't have to slow down; I didn't have to talk to anyone. And I probably didn't. But as I was leaving the store an older woman was coming in. Instinctively I stopped and held the door for her. "Thank you so much, that's the nicest thing someone has done for me all day." I was speechless. Holding a door? Remember, she was on her way in, so it wasn't as if her hands were full. And as I recall it was a typical day- it wasn't raining or cold. It didn't mean anything. But it meant something to her.
The reaction to this "random act of kindness" has stuck with me in the 20-ish years since. And it came to mind as I was reading the seventh chapter of Brennan Manning's The Furious Longing of God, titled 'healing'.
Manning shares several stories of random (and not so random) acts of kindness- some positive, some negative- but each impacting on my heart. Hearkening back to Jesus' "new command" Manning writes,
"If we as a Christian community took seriously that the sign of our love for Jesus is our love for one another, I am convinced it would change the world." (pg 88)
And how to you change the world? One person at a time.
I like how Chip Ingram describes love: "Love is giving someone what they need the most, when they deserve it least, at great personal cost."
We can all probably come up with a story serving one of the "least of these". Religiously we may go out of our way to serve the most visible needs in our community. We might even pat ourselves on the back for going above and beyond.
But service- truly loving others- shouldn't be limited to those opportunities most likely to get our picture in the paper. There was nothing special about the woman I held the door for. She wasn't in any visible physical need, she wasn't in a hurry. It was just the nice thing to do. No, scratch that. There was something special about her. She, just like you and I, just like the most wealthy and the most impoverished, just like the most beautiful and the most despicable, was created in God's image and is worthy of His love.
Manning concludes his chapter asking:
"The question is not can we heal? The question, the only question, is will we let the healing power of the risen Jesus flow through us to reach and touch others, so that they may dream and fight and bear and run where the brave dare not go?" (pg 104)
Ask the Father to bring to your mind one person in your life who has administered the healing touch of Jesus to you. Spend a few minutes in gratitude.
Now ask the Father to bring to your mind one person in your life who needs that same healing touch. Take some time and decide on a tangible way you can return the favor.
(Addendum: I wanted to add these links about our inherent value and preconceived perceptions but didn't have the links handy this morning. The first is a great summary of our identity in Christ by Frank Viola, and the other is an observation on how our perspectives change by Wade Hodges.)
This post continues discussion on Brennan Manning's book, The Furious Longing of God. Please check out Jason Sasyzsen's and Sarah Salter's blogs for more discussion. The "consider this" questions come straight from the book- use them as a springboard for your own thoughts and feel free to share them here.