I received a comment asking for some practical, real-life examples of this “daily life” I’ve been writing about on this blog. Well, I’ll share one example. It may seem trivial, but it is not. Before I share it though, let me provide a little framework…
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
It is true that one person sharpens another, not just because the Bible says so, but because it is reality! Think of how marriage is a sharpening experience. There is not a man I know who hasn’t become more considerate as a result of getting married! Before we are married we can study in our Bible and read about considering others first and denying ourselves. We can read about laying down our lives for others and putting their needs above our own. But when we get married, all these things we’ve read have a real life context. We really learn what it means to deny ourselves when we are married. We really learn about being married when we are married! Because we sharpen each other! But then, our first child arrives. Talk about denying ourselves! People learn what selfishness and selflessness really are when they have one child, then two, then three… And they either grow in the Lord or very obviously hold onto their own priorities and do what they want to do…. And their family will either prosper or suffer.
In “church life” it is the same thing. We can either attend events together and go home or we can be a part of each other's lives like the Bible says. We can either read and hear about how to be more Christ-like, or we can actually become more Christ-like. As I’ve shown from the Bible in the last few entries, real-life relationships are necessary for the kind of growth God wants.
Well, here’s that practical example I mentioned. Sure, I could offer other ones, but this very simple story will hopefully give you a glimpse into just a regular day in the kingdom of God… And it’s the kind of day that we are looking to have more of here in Grand Rapids. We are not looking to have more “revival services”; we are looking for more days like the one I’ll describe. I hope you can see why. :-)
One weekday while I was at work, a brother from our church who didn’t have to work was thinking of how he could enrich the lives of others. How could he “come along side” others and be an encouragement? He stopped by our home and asked my wife if he could take three of our children for a walk to the park. (He had already picked up a boy from another family’s home.) Talk about feeling loved! Our children knew they were thought of by others in the church. We all want our children to feel important in real ways and we all want them to grow up to love God and love God’s children. Investments into their lives like what this brother did are what will make it happen. My wife saw the care also! And besides she had a lot of work around the house that she wanted to catch up on.
Without delay, my wife began planning what she would do and how she would make good use of her freed up time. Knock, knock, knock… Someone was at the door. It was a sister from the church here. It was clear from the concerned look on her face that she was hoping to talk to my wife about something that was important to her. My wife immediately had a choice to make: care about a friend or have some “free time” to herself. And if you can imagine, such a decision can feel difficult for a mother with four small children. My wife chose what Jesus wanted her to choose and she spent the time investing in a dear sister. The housework would have to wait. In fact, God most likely arranged some “free time” not because my wife needed the time, but because someone else needed my wife to have some free time. Although seemingly simple, this situation not only was helpful to the lady who stopped by, but it was helpful to my wife. My wife became more Christ-like. She became better, more practiced at putting others before herself. Through many experiences like this, it will become more and more easy to do what Jesus would do.
We can hear sermons all day long about loving each other and denying ourselves. We can read in our Bibles about considering others more important than ourselves (Phil. 2). It is so often in the workings of daily life together that many of these theoretical concepts actually get put into practice. It happens in a husband-wife relationship. It happens in a parent-child relationship. Denying yourself on behalf of others in simple, un-profound ways builds love and affection that is hard to describe using words on a computer screen. Can you picture what would happen if interactions such as these occurred every day between believers? Wouldn’t it make us more like a family? Isn't that what a family is?
Hope that helps. Your comments are always welcome. :-)