“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35
For this morning’s message, I want to share with you a reflection I read in a book entitled “Rediscover Jesus” by Matthew Kelly:
It was the biggest meeting of Paul’s life, and it had gone well. HE couldn’t wait to tell his wife and his boss. As he rushed out of the Brooklyn office building with the rest of the team, they noticed a vacant cab—a rare sight during rush hour.
Eager to get to the airport to catch their flight home, they bolted toward the cab, yelling to get the driver’s attention. But as they made their way across the sidewalk, they inadvertently knocked over a small produce stand. The rest of the team seem oblivious until Paul stopped and turned around to go back.
From beside the taxi, the others called out to Paul, “Come on, you’ll miss your flight.”
“Go ahead without me,” Paul replied as he made his way back across the street toward the sidewalk covered in produce. At that moment, he realized that the woman who had been behind the produce stand was blind. She was just standing there crying softly with tears running down her face.
“It’s OK, it’s OK,” Paul said to her as he got down on his hands and knees and began picking up the fruit and vegetables. There were a hundred people passing in each direction, but nobody else stopped to help. They just scurried off to wherever they were going.
When the fruit was all back up on the stand, Paul began neatly organizing it, setting aside anything that was spoiled. Now he turned to the woman and asked, “Are you OK?” She nodded through her tears. Then, reaching for his wallet, he took out some bills and passed them to the woman, saying, “This money should cover the damages.” With that, Paul turned and began to walk away.
“Mister,” the woman called after him. Paul paused and turned around. “Are you Jesus?
“Oh, no,” he replied.
The woman nodded and continued, “I only ask because I prayed for Jesus to help me as I heard my fruit falling all over the sidewalk.”
Paul turned to leave again only now his eyes began to fill with tears. For a long time he wandered around looking for a taxi. After finally finding one, he sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way to the airport. He had missed his flight, and because it was Friday night, all the other flights were full. Paul spent the night in a hotel by the airport. This gave him time to think. He couldn’t get one question out of his head: When was the last time someone confused you for Jesus?
Jesus told His disciples, in a message that rings true for us still to this day, that we will be known as His followers by one thing: LOVE. If Christ is the personification of love, then followers of Christ will be known by their expression of love. If Christ is an expression of love, and love is an expression of Christ, will anyone confuse you for Christ? Will they see your example of love as a Christ-like expression or not? This is both sobering and motivating.
Being a Christian is not about how much you read, or how nice the cross is around your neck, or how many Bible verses you can memorize. Being a Christian is about loving others as Christ loved us, and personifying Christ through our expressions of love towards others. The story of Paul and produce stand is indeed appropriate. We have opportunities every day for people to think we are like Christ, and to think that we are not. Will anyone confuse you for Christ?
Lord, thank You for loving me, even at times when I am not worthy of Your love, even in times when I fail to show love to others. As You gave us an example of how to love, may I be an example to others of how to love. Please send someone into my path today who needs a little encouragement, and through Your grace, make me Your vessel that I may make an expression of self-less love to someone today. Amen.
Act in a Christ-like, loving way with everyone you meet today!