This week, my sister’s house caught on fire when she was at home by herself with her little son David and her niece, Sarah. Apparently lightning struck a tree and the fire jumped from the tree to the house under the eaves. As you can imagine, this was a pretty frightening and traumatic experience for all that were involved.
As I listened to my family members tell me the details of what had happened, several of them mentioned the same thing. People from their church were some of the first people on the scene. Ironically, it took the firetrucks almost a half an hour to get to there. Fortunately, neighbors and friends had started using hoses to do what they could until the firetrucks arrived. At one point, my sister Heidi remarked that it seemed like half the church had shown up to see if they could help. The firemen remarked that if it had not been for the help of these kind people the house might have been a total loss.
As I was asking about next steps, Heidi mentioned that one of the people in her church needed someone to house-sit and that as of today they would have a place to stay for the next several weeks while the repairs get underway. What a blessing Three Rivers Baptist Church has been to my sister and her family and that is the way it should be. This was a great example of the church in action in a way that glorifies the Lord before a watching world.
This week we are blessed to host a team of young people from a church in Nebraska who are doing a missions trip to Philadelphia and will be working around our headquarters campus and on on some of the CLC houses. Watching them work together on Saturday reminded me of the joy that can come from serving with other believers to see a project accomplished. I think the Psalmist was writing about these kinds of things when he wrote, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”
Listening to Tim Keller recently, he made the point that a gospel centered community should be like the city on a hill mentioned in Matthew. Sometimes, however, we look more like the dump in the slums as we fight and criticize our brothers and sisters when we should be finding ways to support and encourage them. This is not to say that there is not an appropriate place for Biblical discernment and for holding our fellow believers accountable for their actions. What the world needs is to see is more of us living life together through the good and the bad in ways that demonstrate the power of the gospel to overcome petty differences and even major sins. As we surrender to the power of the holy spirit in our lives we will be able live in communities of faith that do not accept the standards of the world, but are in fact quite counter cultural.