The Long Walk of Love in Our Community
Everything we say and do in our community represents Christ. From the cashier at the grocery store to the parents at our child’s soccer game, we have an opportunity to spread God’s grace in the trenches of life.
My barber (Ok, she’s a hairdresser, but I don’t like to tell people I get my hair cut at a beauty solon), knows how to share Christ with our community in a way that puts me to shame. She and her husband are members of our congregation but her ministry isn’t inside the walls of our building. Several months ago this incredible sister in Christ reached out to an inmate at a local prison. She visited her on a regular basis, cut her hair for free, and promised her when she was released she could come to her shop and learn to be a hairdresser. One day the inmate was set free. She hasn’t taken my friend up on her offer to learn a trade yet, but she does come to her shop for free haircuts. While she is there, my friend talks with her about her struggles and prays with her.
As we walk toward eternity with Jesus, we meet people from every walk of life who need our Savior. Some cross our paths naturally and others are found in places where they are reaping the hard consequences of their bad choices. But they all need the Lord.
We are all going to share grace with our community in different ways, but through our kindness, Christ and His Bride are exalted. God’s love is expressed uniquely through the circumstances and personality of each member. This is why I am not afraid to let people see me “just as I am.”
Every morning I go to the same minute mart for my caffeine fix on the way to the office. I go to another minute mart near the office for a refill in the afternoon. Over a period of many years I have seen clerks at both stores come and go, but not before forming some great friendships. Sometimes, when the store is empty we talk about spiritual things. The clerks ask me to sign get-well cards when employees are in the hospital and tell me when someone has lost a loved one so I can offer my sympathy. If my friends at the minute mart see me on the way to exercise in the morning, they overlook my unshaven face and wrinkled clothes. Sometimes they tell me I have shaving cream in my ear or that my shirt is buttoned crooked. These things don’t matter to them. It’s just the way I am.
Through my conversations with store clerks, bank tellers, waitresses and repairmen I have an opportunity to gently share my faith, my ministry and my church family. Maybe you form your community relationships in a softball dugout or in the stands with parents at your child’s baseball games. You might be the neighborhood guru who knows how to repair anything, or the master chef who delivers delicious meals to the elderly couple across the street who have no one to look out for them.
In any relationship, if we talk long enough, sooner or later our faith and our church family are going to come up. When they do, the person others have already come to know will be the filter through which they see Christ.