Sunday night my wife and I were on our way to a small group Bible study which meets every other week. All the participants are members of several nearby churches.* As we drove along we got a call informing us that some members of our group had sustained damage to their home due to a very intense storm which had torn through our town earlier that day. We immediately changed our plans and went over to our friend’s house and began helping them clear up the fallen trees and do what we could to help repair the damage.
Changing our plans was proof of our priorities . The desire to help my Christian friend was stronger than my desire to attend yet one more Bible study in which we would have surely discussed how to be better Christians. I have sat through countless Bible studies on how to be a good Christian and I think I have a pretty good grasp of what it means to love my neighbor. I very much enjoy studying the Bible but when the opportunity to show the love of Jesus, instead of simply acquiring more knowledge about how to show the love of Jesus presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity to serve.
Participating in the expanding work crew was a woman who recently became a follower of Jesus. She has started to worship with, and obviously enjoys being with our local group of disciples on Sunday mornings. As the work crew grew, with more and more Jesus followers coming to help, this woman was mentored in how to honor Jesus as she watched us live out our beliefs through our actions. What she saw and what she participated in was far more effective in training her than a dozen classes or Bible studies. What I had taught her during Sunday School class just seven hours earlier, was likely already forgotten, but she will never forget the body of Christ at work helping a fellow member in his hour of need. From now on when she is taught in Sunday School “to love your neighbor as yourself” or that the followers of Jesus will be known because of their love for each other, she will know what it means, not because she was taught to love but because she was shown how to love and even more importantly, she participated in the giving of Christ’s love.
*In this context church means a group of Christians who meet regularly in the same place at the same time and who are self perpetuating because of their organization. It is not theologically correct to use this term in this way, however, tradition is what it is. There is ample debate as to whether or not such a group should be called a church or the church or something else all together . I yield to tradition and current common practice and use the word church.