"The most important (commandment), answered Jesus, 'is this....Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself" Mark 12:29-31
Last Sunday I went to church just like I always do, and planned to sit with this group of friends that I always sit with. But then another friend of mine walked in, one whom I seldom see in church any more. In fact, I seldom see this person at all any more. I know he has been going through some hard times lately, plus dealing with depression and other mental health issues, and he is fairly difficult to handle. He has a gambling addiction and has often come over to my house to ask me for money and I have had to tell him no. He is also kind of unpleasant to sit with because he talks to himself sometimes, right out of the blue. And sometimes he will fall asleep throughout the entire service. Well, at least he doesn't snore. But needless to say, there are many reasons why this person usually winds up sitting alone in church.
Suddenly it occurred to me that all of these reasons this person sits alone in church are terrible reasons. I have had to sit by myself in an otherwise full church and I know exactly how it feels....terrible! Isn't church a place of fellowship and the gathering together of God's family? Isn't it the place where we should always feel loved and cared for, no matter what? I have seen this person walk out of services before, usually complaining that he doesn't feel good, but perhaps his aches were more of the heart variety than the stomach. Anyway, I made a decision that day to go and sit with him during the service. Then I decided to talk with him at length after the service. He asked me if I could come over to his place sometime and help him with something, I told him I would do it that day (which I did).
In all of this, I am not trying to brag about myself, as I have been very guilty of forgetting all about Jesus' most important commandment. The most important thing in our lives are the relationships we have with others, but how many of us really take this seriously? Jesus took it seriously....very seriously! He was so serious about it that he said that the two most important commandments we have are our relationship with God and our relationship with other human beings. Our neighbors. And who is my neighbor? Every person I know...especially the ones who I would normally overlook or shy away from.
Dear Father, please forgive me for all the times I have ever taken a person for granted. Please forgive me for the many times I have ignored someone or felt that it would be too inconvenient to befriend a certain person because of the way they look or act. I know it hurts you when I do this and the last thing I ever want to do is hurt you. Please, please give me a heart that is more than willing to love all of my neighbors in the way you want me to love them. In Jesus Holy name, Amen.