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No Frills: Just Love and Grills

The single most important lesson I have taught my children to date is to value the person next to them as much as they value themselves. It is one thing to hear that we should love our neighbors. It is quite a different thing to look a person in the face we know naught and declare them worthy of our attention, love, and respect. The saying about how we should treat the CEO the same as we treat the custodian - that. I have no way of knowing the plans the Lord has for any one of our children so I dare not presume to know the job titles they may hold one day. As such, it is my greatest desire as a parent to instill in them a Christlike love that crosses every barrier and line, that stops at nothing to carry the light of love that has been ignited in them into the darkest corners of this world.

Notice I said I have taught them this lesson. I never said I am done teaching it and I certainly never said they have yet learned it.

One of our children is an introvert by nature, one has never met a stranger, and - let's just be real - one is three years old and has every reason to believe the entire universe is revolving around him right this very moment. I am as guilty as the next person at getting so frustrated at the mysterious person in front of me on the highway who stops too quickly, drives too slowly, or takes forever to choose a lane. I am not always oozing love either - not by a landslide. If I fail daily, there is no way I could possibly expect them to do any better.

That said, whatever part of that lesson that has sunk in has made them better people and I praise God for it. The opportunities our children are given to serve others in our community, to put feet behind their faith, are more valuable lessons than any that could be taught in a classroom. This past Sunday, they had the opportunity to do just that. While the other congregations in town were filled with folks in their Sunday best lifting their hands in praise, ours was empty and our hands were busy. We had on our work clothes and our walking shoes. We had rubber gloves on our hands as we were preparing meals and smoke blowing in our faces from the grills. The only item on the agenda that day was love.

From the little ones in diapers to the grandparents, we all took turns filling our trunks with meals and small tokens of appreciation, then driving to police stations, fire stations, urgent clinics, and emergency rooms. All we came to offer was lunch. The only string attached was love. We quietly prayed over their workplaces, for their hands as they worked, and for their families as they await their return. There was nothing formal, fancy, or fake about our Sunday service. Yet, these are the Sundays my children speak most highly of. These are the ones they will remember. The truths learned on these days are the ones that silence all the lessons we've attempted to teach before. Lord willing, when they are grown, these will be the days that taught them to love others as Christ as loved them. No words were required.

When we found ourselves with some extra meals on hand Sunday, I overheard a small group of folks quietly decide, without hesitation, to feed the homeless in our community. No one prompted that. No one drew attention to it. The ones who went didn't have a lot in common with each other. They all just saw a need. This is just who these people are. Some of our brothers and sisters hadn't had lunch yet and they knew it, so they went and fed them. That's just what the church does. A couple of my girls had the opportunity to tag along with this group before they went to play with a friend for the afternoon. They still haven't mentioned it to me and I think that's the best part: this was not unusual, extraordinary, or marvelous to them in any way. This is just what we do when we are given the opportunity to do it: we love and we serve our fellow man.

After many years sitting in a pew and not quite knowing what to do, this is fresh air to my family and me. We have been called to worship and study the Word, yes, but we are called to be the Word to a dying world, too. We are called to love as He has loved us. We are called to be His hands and feet. We are called to remind folks that God is not against them and the church should not be against them. He is for them and we are for them. Our praise overflows when we do. I think I spent a long time thinking I had to know everything before I could do or teach anything. As it turns out, the world isn't looking for an expert. They're real people just like us and sometimes they're not looking for frills. Sometimes, they're just looking for detergent or a hug or even just a hamburger fresh off the grill.

And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 22:37-39


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