1 April 2021 Greetings and Blessings to each of you!
As I begin this divulgence of what I am thinking about, I can’t help to consider what will I write to take advantage of April Fool’s Day? What fun can I have to offer some sort of shock value only to then reveal at the end of the document, “April Fool’s Day!” Well, I’ll lay it out up front… I’ve got nothing. I have been waiting for the “Happy Fool’s Day” for over a year now as I am sure many of you have been. But I haven’t yet heard it. Oh well, right?
In regards to having an April Fool’s joke pulled on me, I’m not sure that it is possible anymore as I tend to not take anything that I hear to heart until I take time to vet it out, research it, and determine if it is discernably true or false. Maybe this is a good thing, or maybe living in times that cause us to doubt just about everything is not so good. I had a discussion with a close connection this week about differences in what we believe about certain things. The basis was his angered response to another person that is close to me regarding differences between what they both consider truth. Hostility developed based on an argument that neither had any type of objective evidence to base their position. Each was based on what they heard, or saw on TV. Each was based on what they chose to believe. Being a neutral party, I made the point that I live my life understanding that there are a significant number of people that don’t believe in what I do. After all, faith is a difficult thing to objectively argue to a non-believer (which he is). But what was interesting is that his emotional anger towards the other person was due to the fact that what the other person did not believe in could negatively impact his life. The point that he wanted to make was that the other person had to do something or believe something so that he could live safely.
But, when it came to what I have attempted to discuss with him about what he needs to “live,” he has no time for it other than the courtesy of appreciating my thoughts (we have always gotten along well). I have realized that there is nothing that I can do to change what it is that he has chosen to believe, or not to believe, and I tried to let him know that this is true for him and the other person as well. We all have the choice to believe what it is that we want to, for the reasons that we want to. But, in the past, our differences of beliefs could be contained within our own hearts and minds, yet what our culture and our media is doing today (my opinion), even what we choose to believe or not believe can be weaponized against others. As Christians, though, we are called to be different. We are called to a fellowship that builds each other up, even in our differences. During this season we call Lent, we have enjoyed the singing of the hymn, “They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love.” And this is love for one another, our Christian brothers and sisters.
This week we celebrate (or will have celebrated) a Maundy Thursday Fellowship Communion meal to reflect and remember the Last Supper, a time where Jesus brought His disciples together for a time of fellowship. During this time, He shared much about what was to come in the next few days. But He intimated fellowship, caring for one another and loving one another. During this meal, he stated,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-34, NIV).
The love for one another was stated to infer those who were in Christ. If you love each other as disciples, then those who are not yet disciples, or maybe even believers, will recognize you as different. I believe the premise here is that our love for one another is what will draw those that Christ seeks into our fold. It is the fellowship of believers that may be the strongest evangelism tool that we have.
When I consider this in light of the conversation that I was having with my close friend, I realize that I will never get him to believe what I do by telling him what I believe or what I don’t believe. But I also know that he is intrigued by the relationships that I have built and am constantly building through this “belief system” that I adhere to. I know that he recognizes those that I interact with as “good people,” and I hope that what he witnesses in “my love for one another” of you, is something that the Holy Spirit uses to open his heart.
I had a wonderful opportunity to visit with one of Yorkshire’s longest living members this week as she celebrated her 98th birthday. It was a wonderful time where we shared Communion with her daughters. As we shared and she reflected on some of her memories, they weren’t about the events or happenings of her church. It was about the relationships. She was able to articulate many of your names, and it was in the simple acknowledgement of your names and others that are now with the Savior that she found her peace. These were all relationships that developed through her relationship with Jesus; relationships that developed in the church. What a special blessing for me to witness the joy that radiated from her eyes as I could see how God’s love for her was manifested in her love for others. At 98 years old, this is what mattered to her most. I can honestly tell you, if I were not a part of the fellowship of Jesus and a part of the fellowship that obviously means so much to her, seeing the spark in her eyes would have definitely encouraged me to find such a relationship!
There is nothing I could ever do to tell someone what I witnessed during my visit this week. I could share it with them, tell them about, and probably be moved to joyful tears in remembering it. But, I’m not sure my experiences would do more than have them recognize how meaningful it was to me. But I know that anyone who witnesses this love in the heart of another person, or experience what Jesus was commanding in His words recorded by John (13:34-35), will seek the source of such love. See, I don’t think we can convince anyone of things they choose to believe or not believe only by our words. People choose to believe things today that I simply don’t understand. But, when we personally witness something special, something wonderful such as that which exists in the fellowship of believers, the Communion of Saints, the decision to believe (or not) is not based on hearsay, but personal experience.
I can honestly tell you that the fellowship of Yorkshire Church continues to bless the wonderful woman I spent time with this week, even though she can no longer be here in person. Your fellowship in Christ is the source of this blessing. I am certain that she is not the only one that your love for one another has touched. It may also be just the thing that God may be using to help others choose what to believe!
Be blessed and have a great day! In Christ’s love,