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 very important inside.
I’m not sure what the deal is but there probably is a valid reason. But being from the friendly side of the South, we generally didn’t stick “no trespassing” signs up. More than likely, we would stick 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 up 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 this one house confused me.
As you probably can guess, they had a no trespassing sign. But right next to the no trespassing sign, they had a big welcome sign. It caused me to wonder which one was right. I didn’t know if I was welcome to come up on the porch and sit, or I was going to get shot if I did. I wasn’t sure so I kept right on walking, and I was real sure I didn’t want to find out. To be sure there are lots of times when we also seem to send a conflicting message.
Sometimes I see this in 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 people who were the least like Jesus, 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 the ones He hung out with.
However, there was one group they really didn’t like and that was the tax collectors. They worked for the Roman government, and they were seen as thieves and traitors.
Do you know what Jesus did? Jesus invited 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’ 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 really loved people.
When Jesus was explaining to those who followed Him how people would know that they were friends with Jesus, 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 friends with Jesus because of the way they loved—and in particular… loved each other. This is never a popular topic when I speak in church. The reason is 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 do.
There is a secret to loving others. All we need to do is 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 a while, 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…because He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne