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John 13:35: By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

The idea for this blog came a several months ago, when I walked into a funeral luncheon and observed one of our deacons walking through the fellowship hall with a plate full of food.  Seems like a pretty standard activity for a Baptist gathering.  But what caught my attention was that he walked up to a table and set the plate down in front of a lady who had just had hip replacement surgery.  Instantly I thought yes!  What a perfect portrait of a deacon! What a perfect example of how Christians should treat one another.

The next day I was in the foyer after church. I looked out the window and noticed one of our seniors struggling to get into his car and thought, I should go help them.  But before I could move, one of our teens walked out the door, helped the man into his vehicle, and returned into the building without saying a word.  No one told him to go.  He just saw the man struggling and helped him. I stood there thinking that young man gets it.

Neither of these men knew I was watching, and I haven't spoken to either of them about their actions.  Yet both were living examples of Christian love towards other members of our church family and encouragements to my faith. Watching them serve when they thought no one was watching made me start looking around for ways in which various church members where serving.  What I have seen has been such an encouragement to me.  All the incidents below have happened in our church in the last 6 months, and they are all beautiful expressions of Christian love.

I have seen Christ displayed by the countless meals prepared and delivered for those in need.

I have seen Christian love shown by one of our retirees regularly visiting a man off work because of injury. He drives him around, mows his lawn, and does anything else he can to help him out.

I saw Christ in a man in his 70s kneeling on the floor of the church so he could engage my son on his level after Sunday service.

Christ was shown to a whole neighborhood when one of our couples had a block party for all their unsaved neighbors. Their motive? To continue to build relationships with the hope of sharing the gospel with them.

Several of our young moms gathered around a woman in the community after a terrible personal loss to show love, extend grace, and care for her while she grieved.

Most recently, I saw Christian love shown Tuesday night when a whole group of people showed up at one of our family's homes to clean up the mess created by a Tornado that knocked down a shed, broke trees, and generally made a mess of their yard.  All those present had already worked a full day's labor, yet they came out because they wanted to help, and they were happy to do it.  We even had one of our missionaries drive an hour and a half because he wanted to help.

These are just a few examples.  I could keep going. There are all the faithful workers who staff all our ministries week after week in faithful service to Christ and genuine desire to serve the body.  These are the things that God expects from us, and why he has placed us in the church.

We see the importance of this service in Ephesians 4:11-16, which is one of the most important passages on how the church is to behave in the Bible. It says:

He (Christ) gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the entire body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

The examples I have sighted are this verse in action. Paul told the Corinthians, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).  I would suggest that we be imitators of these brothers and sisters in Christ because they are showing us how to imitate Christ. 

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.