Where Would Jesus Eat?
My friend and fellow preacher-creature Arnold Hendrix was back in town for his home church's 50th anniversary celebration this weekend. We went to the local diner at lunch to enjoy each other's company and some good food.
As we left, Arnold (an actual native Floridian) asked the proprietor about someone. "Does ___ still come in every morning?" "Oh yes, she said, about 8."
"Well what about _____?"
"He's a little later, about nine. You know we have two waves - the early one, mostly retirees, and the late one."
Arnold thought of another person and asked, "What about old ___.? He's been coming here 20 years and still thinks he's one of the new kids."
She turned and looked over her shoulder, "he was right there today. We were teasing him about coming here so often. He gave it right back though, said he might stop coming here, since he could get that sort of aggravation at home."
Her smile wasn't that of a businessperson who's running a money-making enterprise. It was that of a friend. Her customers were her friends and family, and unfortunately if nothing changes, in about a month Doris' Diner will close to make way for a wider highway. They call that progress, but I'm not convinced.
Years from now, people will ask, wasn't that where Doris' place used to be? And they'll remember fondly for a while - not the food (though it's excellent), but the fellowship. People knew each other there. It's exactly the kind of place Jesus would have loved.
Friends, that's a lot like a place Jesus does love - and how that place, His church, should be.
Like the diner, people come from everywhere, all walks of life to be fed the Word of God. They receive nourishment for their souls, and are strengthened. But more than that, they become family, adopted by God, and embraced by His people - in a place where people matter - where everybody knows your name.
Some think a successful church has great programs.
Some think a successful church has great music.
Some think great preaching carries the day.
Some think a successful church has the right denominational banner on its masthead.
But Jesus said that the world would spot the church right away - it would the one that had followed His plan.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:34-35 (NLT)
It's a shame Doris' has to close. If we could get some good preaching and some praise and worship in there, they'd have a head start on a bunch of churches. It's for sure they'd win the covered dish Olympics hands down.
But their claim to fame as far as I'm concerned is relationships, and those last, even if the diner won't. We know the church will endure to the last, but it ought not take endurance to keep it together.
Make sure yours is working hard on loving each other. That's the Jesus way.
This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.