One thing I've learned is that people will often surprise you with their character. Sometimes it's a bad surprise, and sometimes it's a good one.
A few years ago, I heard a story about a guy who was walking by a church and decided to go in. He'd never been to church before and didn't know where to go to find an empty seat, so he went straight up to the altar and sat down on the floor.
The pastor was already in the middle of his sermon, so everyone noticed the man come in and sit on the floor. All eyes were on him.
I don't know about you, but I've seen this happen in church before. Usually, an usher will come up to the person and redirect them to a "proper" seat.
But not this time.
A few seconds after the man sat on the floor, a minister who was seated nearby rushed over to him. He introduced himself and sat down on the floor next to him to make him feel more comfortable.
This past winter, a friend of mine was riding the subway and noticed a little boy without a jacket sitting with his younger brother. My friend started talking to the kids and asked why the little boy didn't have a jacket on.
The little boy said that his mom couldn't afford to buy him one. Without any hesitation, my friend took his jacket off and gave it to the boy.
Sometimes I have these random pretzel cravings. And I don't want just any kind of pretzel ... I want a warm, New York street-style pretzel—dirtiness and all (haha).
One day, I was determined to satisfy my random pretzel craving. I went to the pretzel stand, waited for my pretzel to be warmed up, and handed the man a $5 bill for my $2 pretzel.
And then I took a bite into heaven.
The pretzel was amazing, and I was smiling from ear to ear as I leaped across the street. That's what food does—makes me leap instead of walk. I was in another universe.
As soon as I crossed the street, my universe was interrupted by the man at the pretzel stand calling me back over ... oh yeah, I forgot to get my change. So, I went back.
The man started smiling as he went through his cashbox to get my change. As I was standing there waiting for him, I thought to myself, "This man didn't have to tell me I forgot my change. He could've kept it, but he was honest."
Love is not self-seeking, and the man showed me that. I stopped him from giving me my change, said God bless you and walked away.
"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
— John 13:35
Jesus didn't tell us to love one another because it sounds cool. He told us to love one another because love reflects who he is. When we show genuine love to others, they'll see his light shining through us.
I love the story in the Bible about Zacchaeus in Luke 19. Zacchaeus was a very rich tax collector whom the people despised.
When Jesus came to Jericho, Zacchaeus wanted to see who he was. Unfortunately, he was short and couldn't see over the crowd.
So, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to get a good look at Jesus. When Jesus saw him, he called him by name and told him that he wanted to be a guest in his house.
I can only imagine what Zacchaeus must've been thinking. Wait, what? OMG! (no pun intended). Jesus, you want to be a guest in my house? The tax scammer's house? Come on over!
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and
opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."
— Revelation 3:20
Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus into his house with an open heart.
And the people were outraged. "Such a sinner doesn't deserve the company of Jesus," they probably thought. They were wrong. Very wrong.
Jesus wanted to see Zacchaeus' soul saved. He left the crowd for one person who was willing to open the door to let him in.
Luke 19:8 says, "Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, 'I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!'"
That's what love does—it changes you.
Every day you have the opportunity to show the love of God to those around you. And when you do, they'll know who you are, a follower of Christ, by your love.
Sometimes all it takes is a smile.
What's one random act of kindness that you can commit to doing today? As always, I'd love to hear from you. How has love changed your life? Head on over to the discussions page on the blog, and I look forward to chatting with you :).
Know someone who'd benefit from today's message? Share it with a friend!
You were born to do great things. Love on someone every day.