Have you ever sat in the pew and really looked at the person next to you? I don't mean look at their physical appearance or what they are wearing. You and they have been attending the same church and seating in the same pew for month or years. You have praised and prayed with this person (these people); you know their children and extended family; and with them you’ve shared experiences, recipes and tears. But today you look at the person(s) and wonder, who is this person or these people sitting next to me?
Yesterday morning as I stood in the reception area of my work place, I happen to take note of two of my co-workers as they entered opposite entrance ways. When looking at them one is aware of their visible differences; one is muscular, dressed in casual business attire with a tie and color coordinated shoes and military style hair cut, while the other is thin, casually dressed in ethnic attire and wears his hair in long neat dreadlocks. Both men are tall, African American, very articulate and speak with passion about the educational system and the students that they encounter on a daily bases. Not only are they articulate, but they both command a level of respect from their co-workers and their students. The general comment about both men is “he is so nice.” Both individuals are considered to be gentlemen in their own right. Yet as each of them greeted me my mind wondered…Who are they, really? I realized that I had no knowledge of either man’s relationship with God the creator. I know little to nothing of their family or the things that they enjoy doing during their spare time. Therefore the question…Who are you? I could not, in the three years that I have worked with them, recall ever having or hearing one or the other sharing about having a relationship with Christ nor if he had a child. I know that I have wished them a blessed day and/or weekend, wished them a restful break and etc.
There are times when I inquire as to how one is doing and he generally response “I’m hanging on.” My remark then becomes…”Don’t just hang, hold on. To hang on implies that you have no foundation to stand on…Christ is the firm foundation.” He would agree with a smile and go on about his business. But what was he agreeing to? Who is he? Is it okay to break bread and laugh with these brothers and not know who they are? Are they my brothers or just strangers passing along in the journey?
Is it amazing, that just as we do in our place of employment, we experience similar behaves with the members in the Body of Christ (the church). We share the worship experience with members of the body, yet we truly have no knowledge as to who they are in Christ. We brush aside their comments or feelings as “that’s just Sister Sue or Brother John”. We chose when we want to claim them as brothers and/or sisters in Christ. Something we hug them, while at other times we do the distant pat on the back embrace. Please don’t let them make a mistake or come short of our expectations. We then throw on the backside of the desert or under the gossip bus.
We also have those individuals who don’t let others come in close, so no one really knows who they are. They sit among the saints coming and going without any one taking note of their gifts, talents or influence. Some of them may be wolves in sheep clothing (but we are not sensitive enough to them to be aware), while others are lambs searching for the right pasture. Why is that and who are they?
When I read the scripture it appears (to me) that the Word encourages us to know one another. How can we walk in one accord as the Acts Church if we don’t know each other? No I am not suggesting that I need to know all your business, but I should know who you are in the spirit. I should be able to say that I am connected to my brother and sister in Christ because our spirit attests to one another. When I/we choose to connect and accept our relationship in Christ, we can then work together and appreciate the gifts and talents of those among us as well as those in authority over us. Know them that labor among you…1Thes 5:12