My friend Steve often asks us to pray for people he has known for decades and with whom he is about to get to talk on the phone or host for a visit or visit in their home somewhere. He shares that he is looking forward to the time and talks of how much he likes the person. He shares things this person has done that are admirable—ways the person has made the world a better place in some way. If you know Steve, you’ve heard this theme even if you have not heard the exact story I heard this morning.
Today the story was of a man whose citizenship is of another country and who is coming to the States for some important medical treatment. This man and Steve partnered in some work that benefitted minority language communities in the country of this man’s citizenship many years ago. Steve shared about how he was looking forward to having time with him and about how he was rather excited that he’d found a wheel chair to borrow for this man’s use while visiting which meant he could take this friend shopping. As I listened, I found myself grinning and feeling so blessed to have this man as my friend—this man who serves joyfully and loves well.
Then he said, “This guy has worked against [our organization/cause] for most of his career—he does not agree with or like what we do.” He went on to say that while they’ve both been free to speak candidly about the topics and causes, principles and ideas where they disagree rather deeply, he was grateful that they’ve been friends for so long.
Honestly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I think I did both.
The urge toward laughter came from Steve’s infectious sense of pure joy that delights in friendship and serving others and loving well. It makes me want to be a better friend, to open my home more readily to others, and to love with reckless abandon and no accounting.
The tears came from the lack of joy and love I’ve seen in too many who claim to know Christ but who are overcome with fear and hate for those with whom they disagree. And—though it is hard to say because so many of you are kind and will try to contradict me—it is because I see myself too easily looking more like the one who hates than the one who loves.
When I grow up, I want to be more like Steve.