Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, September 15, 2013

LOVE FOR THE BRETHREN

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Salim Manayer who heads a significant reconciliation ministry in Israel between Israeli believers and Palestinian believers tells this story in his newsletter of learning about true love for others in the body of Christ during a visit to Denmark:

I experienced something so beautiful. The love and acceptance of the Messiah through the lives of the people who took me around, opened up their homes, took me shopping, took care of me when I was sick and took time out of their busy lives to drive me from one end of the country to the other. I was so moved by their kindness, their hospitality, their compassion, their honesty and their love. Through long country drives they shared and explained to me their reasoning for various traditions and teachings.

And who were these people? Well, if you want to get technical they were Lutherans. Lutherans who belong to the state church – many of them pastors. Yes, we are different – I am an Israeli believer who does not hold to these traditions, but we are called to love each other in spite of our differences. Put all of these labels aside, these amazing people were my brothers and sisters, they are my family because we belong to the family of God and they embraced me as their family.

I was moved as I sat around the kitchen table drinking coffee after confirmation class with one pastor and while eating apple crisp on Rosh Hashanah with another pastor, attentively listening to them as they shared their passion to see the lost people in their communities and parishes find God and believe in him. It left an impression on my heart and encouraged and inspired me to reach the people in my own community.

Sometimes stereotypes and prejudices are there in the back of your head and you don’t realize it until God places those same people you held stereotypes about in your face and they begin to show you the love God requires of his children…

Maybe I was sent to Denmark to impress upon, encourage, challenge and impart to the Danish believers to become reconcilers in their local communities; to bless them and show them that it is possible to break down the walls of bitterness and hatred, demolish their stereotypes and prejudices and to love their brothers and sisters. And yet, that is exactly what they taught me.

RESPONSE: I commit this day to show true love to my brothers and sisters breaking down prejudices.

PRAYER: Lord, I need Your help today to follow Your command to love all my brothers and sisters.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

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