Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). But what does that really look like? How is this love really “fleshed out” as we learn to counsel (in this case, comfort) one another? Here’s an example that really moved me, written by a fellow pastor and dear friend Brian Croft. Oh, how our world needs more churches like this one!
Last week, I wrote about the most difficult funeral I have ever preach which was for a dear friend and faithful deacon in our church who was killed in a car accident 2 weeks ago. Yet, in the midst of dealing with such a devastating loss, there was much of which to be encouraged by our church in their reaction and care of this family.
While the grieving family was out of town preparing funeral arrangements, a large crew of our folks went to this family’s house, decorated the house for Christmas, cleaned the house inside and out, and the whole church bought presents for the grieving widow, her 5 year old daughter and 1 year old son.
When the family returned after the funeral the following night, they came home to a clean, lit up, decorated house, and not just a tree up inside, but a sea of gifts under the tree; something their deceased husband and father would have been in charge of getting for them. Needless to say, they were overwhelmed and the gospel has been undeniable to this woman, her kids, and all her extended family who are amazed at the effort one small church made to love this family.
I was told about a third of our entire church was present for the decorating party. There were even non-Christians present that evening who had been visiting the church and curious what we were doing and more importantly why. I could not have been more encouraged by, not just the zealous efforts of our people to care for this family in need, but the way our people in the midst of their own deep grief have exuded maturity and selflessness for others for the sake of Christ.
Even though this have been a time of great saddness for our church, in God’s kind providence, it has also been a season of great encouragement for me as a pastor. For in these kinds of tragic, life-altering moments can you truly assess the spiritual maturity of a local church and their unshakable belief in the gospel. I am not sure what tomorrow holds for our church, but I post this as a very encouraged, grateful pastor for the Lord’s work by his grace in the lives of our people. This is truly a work that only He can do.
[Originally posted at Brian’s blog: Practical Shepherding]