Most of you know, our family moved from one state to another last summer. Moving is always hard, but for teens, I believe, even more so. Our daughter really struggled … but God met her, met all of us, through a loving church. Truly, the youth group helped carry our daughter through that time. Today Robin Gilbert Luftig reminds us to be the church God desires–one that’s saturated by love and grace.
What Is Expected of Us?
A young girl sits alone on the pew, hoping—yet dreading—someone will ask to sit with her. Her clothes are nondescript and she wears little makeup. Her hair is neat yet combed just right to conceal her face. She knows how to blend into a crowd. She’s had years of practice learning how not to be seen. She doesn’t seem to want to be seen … but does she?
Please, see me. Look at me. Talk to me. Let me know I matter. I have a secret I want to share, but I’m afraid to risk it with you.
An elderly man slowly walks into the church and sits down in your favorite spot. It appears he’s missed several bathing opportunities and hasn’t shaved in days. His clothes are worn and his shoes flop when he shuffles. The only glint from him comes from the worn wedding ring he wears on his gnarled finger. He looks a bit sad; a bit lost.
Please, see me. My wife just passed away and I’m so lonely. I want to talk to you, but I’m afraid to show you my pain.
These or people like these sit in pews across the country every Sunday. Sadly, many of them go home just as they came in: alone and in pain, still searching for relief yet afraid to risk reaching out.
What do we do?
Jesus’ words are very clear. Get to know and involve yourself in the lives of those around you. Matthew 31:36-40, shares a conversation between Jesus and a Pharisee:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We don’t need to offer an intense theological dissertation on a point of doctrine. We may just need to smile … say “hello, my name is ______, what’s your name?” When we see and acknowledge others, they may give us the opportunity to really see them. We may even be able to show them the love Jesus talked about.
Think about that the next time you have a visitor at church. Maybe their needs are so great words won’t be spoken, until they know you care.
Robin Gilbert Luftig has worked for many years to help broken people understand that God loves them. In 2009, she founded Renew Ministries, with the purpose of sharing with spiritually- and emotionally-broken men and women that God has a plan for their healing. She’s written From Pain to Peace: The Journey of Forgiveness After Divorce, available at Amazon.com. She is currently writing a book on accepting God’s restoration
Robin lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lew, and counts serving broken-hearted people as one of her greatest privileges.
You can follow Robin’s blog at http://robingilbertluftig.wordpress.com/ and on Facebook at Renew Ministries with Robin Gilbert Luftig
Books about failed marriages abound on bookstore shelves. Readers in search of resources to re-energize themselves in the wake of a divorce can find vast and varied literature on inward and outward healing. So why another book on divorce? From Pain to Peace offers a unique perspective on post-marriage relationships. The premise of this work is that everyone benefits from establishing healthy relationships after divorce-primarily ex-spouses, but also the children and other family members and friends. This book promotes the act of forgiveness that lies at the heart of the healing process. Written in a lively and engaging style and using frequent support from Scripture, this book offers a Christian view on the subject. Also included are personal experiences as well as testimonials from others to support this premise. Stories are included from people in variety of roles-for example, ex-spouses, ex-in-laws, children, and stepchildren-who share their feelings and experiences and who recount stories of their own divorce process.
Let’s talk about this. Perhaps you are going through a difficult time right now. It might be tempting to isolate. In fact, it might seem to take too much work or energy to get involved with church activities, but what if that is precisely how God wants to reach out to you–through the love of others? Or perhaps you know of individuals entering your church sanctuary who appear withdrawn, sullen … hurting. Maybe even angry (which most often is the result of pain). How might God want to use you to reach out to them? What are some easy, non-threatening ways we can do that?
Finally, has God used church members to minister to you during a particularly painful time? Share your experience here and let us celebrate God’s love together. 🙂
Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.