I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to have been an apostle; walking with Jesus, hearing his teachings, serving beside him and having face to face conversations. My heart melts just imagining myself in those scenarios.  I would’ve loved to have seen his joy and playfulness as he invited the children to come to him. Wouldn’t it be amazing to sit in on one of his teachings and hear his interpretations of the scriptures? When my heart is hurting it would be incredible to have our Lord take my face in his hands and say, “I am with you.” It’s no wonder there were crowds of people that committed to following Jesus and aiming to live out his teachings. From the poor and unclean, to oppressors and racial enemies, Jesus was and is love.

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.” – John 15:9

As I’ve been daydreaming about what it would be like to be in the presence of Christ, God keeps whispering, “You are.”

Monday night, Tim Boyer and I had the blessing of sharing the food we had prepared from the service window at community dinner. I’ve attended many community dinners over time, dropping in on little groups as they dine or picking out a guest or two in line to visit with, but this was the first time I’ve had a chance to greet every individual face and say every person’s name. In talking about our experience later, Tim and I both were amazed at how personable people were as they came through the line. It became clear that they were hungry for more than just food. Their smiles and friendly banter were heartwarming. One man put both hands on the counter so he could pull up to see us as best he could. With a grin from ear to ear his blue eyes sparked with enthusiasm as he asked us how we were doing and thanked us for the meal. “Oh, wow!” he said, “Baked potatoes!” And, I realized I was seeing Jesus, face to face.

“Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” – Matthew 25:40

Preparing the meal took some intentional planning and effort. It took some sacrifice of time and energy. In these 3 months that Gerald is unable to head up the dinners, we recognize just what a blessing he is to us. We also recognize how important it is to see a need, and fill a need. A key test of our commitment to Christ is our love for others. It is not just our words that express our love, but our attitudes and actions as well. When we are strengthening our faith through prayer and discipleship, we also develop an instinct for filling the gap.  It resonated with me the way our pastor described effective leadership. She said, “I don’t want someone on our leadership team that is going to see we need to replace a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom and come to tell me about it 5 minutes before service starts. I want a leader who will see that it needs to be replaced and then take care of it.” I’m thankful for the Sunday Small Groups of St. Paul’s who have stepped up to prepare meals in the upcoming months as well as Broadway Tecumseh, Bethel and McLoud United Methodist Churches. What a great gift to be able to work together as the body of Christ for God’s people.

For me, I was able to see Jesus in the faces of people we were serving at the community dinner, but I also pray that they were able to see Jesus in our faces. I think about the humble servant Jesus was when he was washing the feet of his disciples. I believe we are most like Christ when we exhibit that same attitude of servanthood: placing others’ needs before our own, doing concrete things to meet those needs, and not looking for benefits in return.

What are some other gaps you can find where God may be calling you to love? Whether it be in your church or in your community, where do you see a need you can fill?

Jesus did not say that others would know we are his disciples by what we say, or how we dress, or what we know, or what labels we carry. In John 13:35 he said, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.”  

Tate Monroe, Director of Discipleship and Development