Jesus said that the world will know Christians by their love. Not by their theology or the morals or their lifestyle. Theology, morals, and lifestyle are by no means neutral issues but they didn’t get mentioned when Jesus was speaking to His disciples before He died.
Before I left Northfield I posted the words to a hymn that sums up a lot of what I learned in my 5 years there. Within that hymn is a line, and I still remember the day when it became real for me in July 2008. But that’s not the point at present. The line: “Grow in love and love by serving.”
I have never felt more privileged to belong to the body of Christ than I did two weeks ago as we moved to Indiana and a few Christians loved so well that I felt like royalty for those few grueling days.
Michael gave his whole day to help us load our truck and he worked like an ox and stayed by our side till we finally locked up. The next day he drove across town to return a couple things we’d left in his car.
Laura gave her whole day, too, but that was just the tip of the iceberg, because she helped me pack all summer, and held Jacob so I could work, she kept me cheerful and rational. Monday morning she got up at 5:00 to load the things that had been in her car into our car before Mike & Chuck drove it down to hook to the truck. She then made a hot breakfast and a bucket of smoothie, met me at the airport with it, and after we’d eaten she went with me through security and all the way to the gate where she waved till I was out of sight and quiet teary.
Josh helped us for those last couple days and when we needed an impromptu 7:30 a.m. run 70 miles down the interstate to fetch Mike’s brother, he went. He packed our truck like a puzzle and not a single thing shifted the whole way.
Chuck took a bus up to Minnesota, helped load, painted our walls, stayed by our sides until the truck was in Indiana and empty, the furniture was built, the walls were painted.
Al & Lynne put us up in their home for two nights and it felt like a luxurious bed and breakfast. Lynne had a hot breakfast served at 4:45 before the guys set out on Monday morning. They showered us with simple gifts like magazines and granola bars for my day of travel. Al took me to the airport that morning and then returned the borrowed car seat to other friends.
And that’s just the start.
When I got to Indianapolis there was a phone call from a Bloomington pastor who had a connection with my parents. My mom had dropped a line to say I was headed to town. His daughter, Michal, met me at the shuttle with a car seat and a smile when I rolled into Bloomington, exhausted and alone, with a baby and a diaper bag. She took us to our new house and held Jacob while I signed papers.
Five hours later she was there again with two guys from her small group. Her pastor-dad followed close behind with her younger brother and a bag of home grown vegetables. Half our truck was unloaded less than two hours later. They prayed for us and were on their way.
At 9:00 the next morning we’d barely gotten out of the shower when there was a knock at the front door and another local pastor, Josh, was there, a mutual friend of some friends who live two hours from us. He brought a young guy, Daniel, from his church and before our mutual friends arrived, the two people we’d originally lined up to aid in the truck-unloading, the truck was pretty much ready to be taken back to the U-Haul place.
Keith & Sarah showed up about that time and after Josh & Daniel left they helped us unpack boxes and build furniture all day so that when they went home we were further in the settling-in process than I expected to get that whole first week.
Those four days, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, I felt like I was just walking around with my chin dragging on the floor. I could not believe we were being treated with love like that. It was certainly love we didn’t earn. It was love Christ instilled and poured out on us through His people.
No doubt about it. We know these people are Christians by their love. We couldn’t have had a better send-off or welcome.