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I heard the sirens but only as white noise in the background of the rest of the morning — until I realized they were right outside my house.
I jerked open the front-window curtains and saw my neighbor being placed into an ambulance. My heart raced but my mind was in shock and I stood there for a few minutes looking at the emergency workers.
The adrenaline kicked in and I started to run out of the house, then I realized, I was still in my pajamas — hair disheveled, coffee breath and no bra! Yep, I was the last thing those emergency workers wanted to see running across the street.
I quickly changed into “real” clothes, slipped on some shoes and headed out the door. Oh, I still had messy hair and coffee breath but at least (I reasoned) I was dressed and that was a big improvement.
I would like to tell you the reason I was so quick to run to my neighbor was because we know each other and have some sort of neighborly relationship. But the reality is I don’t really know my neighbors. It’s sad, honestly. We have lived in this house for 11 years and I have only met two of my neighbors once.
I have spoken to this particular neighbor enough to know he lives alone and his family is several hours away. The knowing he was alone is what prompted me to run to his house.
Don’t we all need someone as support when an emergency hits? This man had no one.
No one was there to hold his hand and tell him everything would be alright.
No one was there to ride with him in the back of the ambulance.
No one would be waiting for him when he arrived at the hospital.
As the ambulance left, my heart sat heavy inside. I promptly put a prayer request out on Facebook. I knew if his family couldn’t be there, God could.
Within a few short minutes of posting that prayer request, a pastor friend of mine messaged me.
“I’m in the emergency room with a church member. What’s your neighbor’s name? Would you like me to check on him?”
I just sat there staring at the screen with my mouth opened and I simply wept. I was undone.
With one text message, Jesus showed me He is so willing to use anyone brave enough to step out of themselves and intentionally observe the needs of His children.
A man who is a pastor at a different church from my family, who has never met my neighbor, offered to check on him.
It would have been so easy for my friend to ‘like’ my status, post the obligatory “praying” and go about his day unmoved and unchanged.
But he chose to be brave. He chose to step outside of himself to risk rejection by hospital staff and a man he had never met, to bring Jesus into his life.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Being disciples of Christ is not about belonging to the same social club we like to call church; it’s about showing Jesus’ love to those in need regardless of their denomination affiliation, political views, or lifestyle choices.
If we are honest, we all have found ourselves in situations where we had the opportunity to minister to someone but chose not to do so.
Usually it’s because we convince ourselves we don’t want to intrude in another person’s business. But, more than likely, it’s because we are uncomfortable.
It’s probable we have made a judgement about their lifestyle or beliefs simply based on the way they look or sound. We decide they wouldn’t be interested in Jesus.
And we’re afraid. We are afraid of what others will think or say about us. We are afraid we will be embarrassed because we may not have the right answers. Or, we are afraid we will be rejected.
Jesus didn’t care about any of those things.
He didn’t care what others said about Him.
He let them think whatever they wanted to think.
He bravely chose to love
the demon possessed
and He chose to love me
He didn’t let the look of the outside keep Him from loving the inside. And He chose bravely.
When we choose to forget the opinions of others, we will find the courage to love past the fear, stereotypes and lifestyle choices.
If we allow ourselves to see past the church walls, we will begin to see Jesus’ heart for the ones He loves.
- What are ways you can become more intentional about seeing people in need?
- Are there stereotypes or fears that keep you from bravely choosing to love His children?
- How can you show Jesus to someone this week?
Original publish date: April 23, 2015