I would like to make a point by walking you through the life of a fictional character, Fred. Throughout his life he often felt out of place and uncomfortable even among his family. His parents often found him sitting in the tree house all by himself reading a book. It was a tiny space, enough room for him and all his books, most had something to do with cowboys. He often fantasized of a life out west where he only needed a small space but a view that never stopped.
After High School he started to realize his dream and moved into a tiny home parked just outside a small town in Wyoming. He did not own the land, in reality he worked for the owners of the KOA. Doing some repair work and janitorial cleaning just to pay his expenses and buy some groceries. He was incredibly pleased with his new life, seldom missing his family, while enjoying the independent life he fantasized over, (so he thought).
A service call came in for Fred, it was his neighbor at the campgrounds, their waste system was backing up. Fred knocked on the door and introduced himself, they had never met. Peter and his small family had gatherings all the time at their camper, but Fred had turned down their request so many times to join them, but Peter just kept sending the invites anyway.
Fred promised Peter that the sewage line would be repaired by sundown. The Sun began to set in the distance, but Fred had not been seen or heard for hours. Peter walked around the back and found Fred laying lifeless on the ground. Peter and his family quickly rushed Fred to the hospital.
He woke up in a haze but was able to make out the childlike photos hanging in the room that Peter’s children had created. As Fred turned looking for more clues as to where he was, he found Peter sitting in the chair next to him asleep. How long had he been there and why was his neighbor asleep in this hospital room? The nurse walked into the room and was so please that Fred was awake. He had many questions, but focused his strength in asking just one, he had suffered a brain aneurysm. Peter began to awaken as the nurse was leaving and his family arrived. He introduced his family to Fred; this is my wife Rachel and our two children.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Peter helped pay some of Fred’s deductible before leaving the hospital. Fred was curious as to why this stranger, his neighbor, would care so much. There was a song playing on the radio that caught Fred’s attention, one verse in particular. This song is by Casting Crowns, entitled, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”.
You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet
Galatians 6: 9-10a ESV
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,
Every Monday, Peter would check in on Fred. Fred would talk through the door and tell him all was well. This continued for months until one Monday, the knock at the door never came. For only the second time Fred went over to Peter’s and knocked on his door; once, twice, and then a third time. No answer. Another neighbor yelled out to Fred, “They took Peter to the hospital this morning, I saw them wheel him out on the stretcher. He didn’t look good; Rachel and the kids were all crying.” Fred got a ride to the hospital and went directly to Peter’s room. Rachel recognized him standing outside the door and pleaded with him to come in. He had suffered a heart attack but was already recovering. Peter spoke softly to his visitor, “Thank you for coming”. Fred stayed for a few hours sitting in the corner wondering why he was even there. “I live my life for myself, why do I care about a man I hardly even know?”
John 13: 34-35 ESV
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.”
Fred went home and dug through an old box of belongings. He found a Bible that the Pastor gave him when he graduated from High School. This is the first time he had opened a Bible and it fell open to John 13 and he began to slowly understand why Peter was able to show him love. Paul was reflecting God’s love. He remembered his parents talking about a friend of theirs that showed this same love to them. So, he turned the pages and continued reading, flipping around from page to page but continuing to read of God’s love with each turn of a page.
Ephesians 4: 1-3 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
As Fred continued to read, he felt Jesus was calling him to accept His love. To trust and follow Jesus, but how? He had never met Jesus, to be honest Fred had never met anyone that cared about him as much as Peter. Was Peter Jesus? No, Peter was just a person who had given his life to shine the light of Jesus to others. More than just a hello or a kind smile, Peter learned how to reach out and touch others. Jesus did it all the time.
Fred asked Jesus that night to forgive him. What came next, he wondered, is life going to be different now? Salvation is only the start, it is accepting the fact that your life before Him was no longer acceptable, something was going to be different. He was going to become more involved in the life of others. When needed he would be available to bear the burdens of someone else. Paul, the writer of Ephesians tells us to walk in humility, gentleness, with patience, so that we can bear with one another in love.
Proverbs 3: 5-8 ESV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.