Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35
It was kinda confusing. A while back I was walking in our neighborhood. It was early in the morning and the birds were singing, the sun was shining and as Mister Rogers would say, “It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” As I was walking I would look at the different houses and their yards. I noticed that several, well actually more than several, of the homes had “no trespassing” signs in their yard or stuck on the house. One home had six or seven signs and about a half dozen security cameras. I think they must have had something really important inside.
I’m not sure what the deal is but probably there is a valid reason. But being from the South, we generally didn’t stick “no trespassing” signs up in our yard. More than likely we stuck up a “hey, y’all come on in” sign. Of course, that was several decades ago and maybe now they have some not so friendly signs down South too. At any rate this is America and you can pretty much put up what you want as long as it isn’t too mean. But then there was one house that kinda confused me.
As you probably can guess they had a “no trespassing” sign up. But right next to the “no trespassing” sign they had a big “welcome” sign. It caused me to wonder. Which one was correct? I didn’t know if I was welcome to come up on the porch and sit or if I would be shot if I did. I wasn’t sure so I kept right on walking because I was real sure I didn’t want to find out. Oftentimes we seem to send conflicting messages.
Sometimes I see this is at churches. There will be a sign on the message board that says “everyone welcome”. There might even be a parking spot in the parking lot that says, “reserved for guests.” Sometimes they have people standing at the door to shake your hand when you come in. But then I wonder, “do they really mean that or are they trying to act nice?” I mean everyone expects churches to be friendly because Jesus was. He liked everybody. I heard a preacher say once that it was pretty amazing that the people who were the least like Jesus were the ones that felt the most comfortable around Him. It seemed they liked Him and He liked them.
On the other hand, Jesus was always bumping heads with the religious elite. Theoretically they should have been the most like Him, but they didn’t like Him and I’m not sure He was too fond of them. Of course, Jesus was always trying to find the best in others but some of those guys in the New Testament were really mean. I don’t think there was a “welcome” sign on their house for either Jesus or His friends
There was one group they really didn’t like, the tax collectors. Because tax collectors worked for the Roman government, they were seen as thieves and traitors. But do you know what Jesus did? Jesus invited a tax collector to be one of them, to be a part of His inner circle. Can you even imagine that? “Hey Matthew,” Jesus said, “why don’t you come and be a part of our group?” I bet the religious guys about fainted and so did the rest of Jesus’s followers. I can just hear them now, “Well, there goes the neighborhood.” They might have been right, but Jesus was always more concerned for the neighbor than the neighborhood. He did more than talk about loving people, He really loved people.
When Jesus was explaining to those who followed Him how people would know that they were His friends, do you know what He said? It wasn’t because they went to church on Sunday. It wasn’t because they knew all the answers. And it wasn’t even because they wore the right kind of clothes when they were hanging around Jesus. Nope. Jesus said that people would know that we were His friends because of the way we loved—and in particular, the way we loved each other. Whenever I share about that, it never goes over very well. The reason is that it is a lot easier to dress right, talk right and go to church than to love someone—particularly someone who is not very lovable. But that is what He said we should do. There is a secret to loving others.
We need to remember that when we were not lovable at all, Jesus chose to love us. And if we will let that roll around in our heads and hearts awhile, I think we will find that loving others is just a little bit easier. The next time you are all worked up about something, maybe trying to love someone, just get up next to Jesus and sit awhile. You won’t find a “no trespassing” sign there…just one that says “welcome.” And you can just sit back and let Him handle whatever you’re stressed about…cause He’s got this.