Years ago, our neighborhood was blasted with eighteen inches of snow. I was stranded at home, but it was nice to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. But peace and quiet, ended when I went to shovel our driveway, which is rather long. I had a nifty tool called a snow slider that pushes snow out of the way. My little gadget is fast and easy to use for two to three inches of snow but when I placed the slider in front of this pile and pushed, then pushed again, nothing moved. “Oh, no!” (Hmmm, not my exact words.)
So, I grabbed a snow shovel and started digging and digging and digging some more until I was standing over the shovel, panting, out of breath.
Did I mention there were eighteen inches of snow?
I finally managed to clear a small path and took a break. A few minutes later, I tried again, made more progress and took another break. At this rate, I would be shoveling snow until July.
Then, there was a knock on my door.
A neighbor had a snow blower, but never used it. Today, he needed it and managed to clear his driveway within minutes. He was having so much fun, he decided to take his blower over to help another neighbor. This neighbor was so grateful; he pitched in and they both went to help someone else. By the time they came to my driveway there was a whole crew, cleaning driveways, drinking coffee, sharing stories and having a grand old time.
Within a few short hours, we had a cluster of houses with clean driveways. More importantly, neighbors started crossing over to visit and say thanks. Soon people were going back and forth giving away cookies, coffee, soup and whatever was needed. Others started coming outside to talk and play in the snow.
Often, our best witness as Christians is simply how we respond in a crisis.
The neighbor who took the initiative to use his snow blower and clean people’s driveways, accomplished more to demonstrate the love of Jesus then all the sermons I could preach.
God often teaches a powerful lesson while doing a simple task. All of us in the neighborhood could have cleared our own driveway but most of us would finish the chore feeling cranky and miserable. Instead, our neighbor displayed God’s love in action and taught the true meaning of “love at work.”
Isn’t this what being the church is supposed to be all about? An email: “I believe real church, real religion, happens in this church building and translates outside in our day-to-day encounters.” The neighbor who used his snow blower to help out a whole neighborhood was expressing the love and grace of God in tangible ways.
One of my favorite lessons from John Wesley is often called: The three simple rules.
- Do no harm – by thought, word or action. Our words and our actions have consequences. We do our best to be encouraging.
- Do all the good you can – in building up the body of Christ and in loving and serving others and all of creation.
- Stay in Love with God through Worship, Bible study, prayer and our good works. This is the best way I know to demonstrate love.
As the church of Jesus Christ, we are challenged to offer alternatives to the divisiveness sweeping our nation. We are challenged to offer God’s love and grace as an example and testimony to the world around us, One great example: our neighbor with the snow blower.
I believe God is continually offering opportunities to witness our faith, sometimes through words and other times through actions. “If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.” 1 John 4:12