As I rode to the church this morning I had a long forgotten obstacle: cars and school children heading off to school! Funny how quickly things change on the first day of school even for those who have nothing to do with it other than riding by on their way to work. As I continued my ride, I began to think of how we impact things and don't ever really notice it.
Often, when things we do are negative we hear about it pretty quickly, but it is rare that we hear about the way we impact the world and don’t even think about it. Over the past few weeks I have had some people from the community coming in for counseling or just a friendly ear to listen to. I always find these conversations interesting. Last week a nice man came in and talked to me. He met me at the funeral for the homeless woman last year.
As he was telling me his story he said that when I went up to him and gave a welcoming smile, that was the beginning of a journey that lead him to rehabilitation. Being honest, I vaguely remember the encounter, and it did not help that he looked very different cleaned up. As we ended the conversation, all I could do was think wow, the power of God. If I would have thought of the significance of that day I would have never thought that being nice would have impacted things more then anything else.
There is the song that was a standard camp song when I was growing up: “We are One in the Spirit” -I hope most of you know it. It is a simple but powerful song, which teaches us a very important lesson about faith. Basically the lesson we learn is that we are one body with one God who calls us to love, anything more or less than that is a diversion.
A few years ago one of my good friends was leading a discussion trying to recruit people for a prison ministry. When a person in the group said, “Well they’re felons, they did the crime, now they’re doing the time.” The odd implication being that by going into the prison my friend was giving them a way out. My friend answered back “Yes, but as people of faith we are called to share that faith with everyone, showing them dignity and love. From there, God will do what God needs to do.”
My friend hit on the essence of what we spoke of a few weeks ago in the Good Samaritan story:
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Interestingly, so much of modern Christianity is focused on immediate results, theological correctness, and comfortable spirituality. But that is not the message that Christ gives at all: in fact he calls us to be compassionate and treat all with respect and love, staying faithful to God. From there, God will use us, and while we do not always see our impact, we know that we have one, and we can see the impact if we look really hard. As people of faith, we must never forget that our call is to love as God has loved us and that the impact of that love will affect the world around us and that God will use that to bring others to faithfulness.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen