Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Just Look For The Christians!

About 15 years ago my wife and my daughter Jill went on an overseas missions’ trip. During the trip they were in both France and Germany. They were going to be gone for two weeks and I recall vividly driving them to the airport to drop them off. After sending them off I returned home to care for our other four children alone until their return. Throughout our marriage we had been to the airport several times to pick a family member up or drop them off, even a few times for one or both of us to fly somewhere. The difference this time was that we were using an airport neither of us had ever been to before. I don’t know about you, but I am always a bit more anxious about things like that. When it comes to things like airports I like to have some familiarity. Because this trip was taking place just a few years after 9/11 all of the restrictions we now take for granted were relatively new. It was a bit unsettling to not be free to see them to their gate but instead have to say our goodbyes before they joined the line for the security checks.

After the two weeks had passed I happily got into the car for the two hour ride to the airport to retrieve them. As I parked and walked toward the airport I remembered I would not be able to go to their gate and watch them get off the plane. In fact, as I entered the only part of the airport I could, the baggage claim, I realized there was no way to know which one their luggage would arrive on. More than that there was no way to know which of the many doors people were streaming from, they would emerge. I began to get anxious. I wondered would I be able to see them…would they be able to see me. I looked around for some way to determine where I should be looking but I could find no indication as to which flights would be the entering baggage claim from where. I knew where I was…but no idea where to look for my wife and daughter. In that moment I was actually more concerned than I had been at any time in the two weeks before.

It was at that moment that the Holy Spirit calmed me. I felt impressed with this thought “Just look for the Christians” I understand that Christians don’t look any different than anyone else…or do they? I began scanning all of the doors where people were filing into the seeming abyss I was standing in. Most looked tired and many seemed irritated in one way or another. I knew though that wasn’t what I was looking for.

Philippians 2:14-15 in the New Living Translation says: Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Colossians 3:12-14 goes on to say this about how Christians should look different than those around them. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. If I knew one thing standing there it was that I was not seeing a lot of harmony. People were looking for the carousels their luggage should be coming down and heading toward them with little regard for anyone else. Some looked as if they were walking across an empty room rather than using the care necessary for one filled with people. There were people literally bumping into others to reach in and grab their bags as if it was their only chance to retrieve them and they would not be back around a few seconds later. I knew these were not the people I was looking for…and then what Jesus said in John 13:35 came to my mind, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

I just leaned back against the wall and a new peace came over me. I had been standing for about 45 minutes watching the scramble in front of me only occasionally seeing people who were calm and kind looking. Then it happened. As I stood there scanning, I saw them. Not my wife or daughter, but many people coming out of one particular door to the baggage claim. For the most part they were smiling, helping each other get their carry-on bags moving in the right direction. They too looked tired, but some were laughing, some were helping those around them, some were hugging and saying heartfelt goodbyes to those they had been with. There they were…the Christians! I watched the door they had emerged from intently and then my wife and daughter came into view! They too looked tired…but happy and kind and gentle. I headed toward them and they seemed as glad to see me as I was to see them.

As Christians we should look different. We are blessed to know the love of our Heavenly Father. Could there be any greater knowledge than that Jesus gave His life just so that we could be with Him for eternity? That fact alone should have us in a perpetual state of gratitude and awesome wonder! As our hearts and minds are renewed the natural response to the redeeming transformative power of the Holy Spirit living in us should be compassionate hearts toward others, kindness to those around us, humility, meekness, patience with everyone. As God puts us through the perfecting process we ought to be bearing with one another, forgiving those who hurt us, if for no other reason than that we have been forgiven. Additionally, if we allow all of these things to happen, love…God’s love flowing through us will bind it all together in perfect harmony. And it is by that great love that people around us will know we are His disciples. Do you know what disciples do? They don’t keep the love of God to themselves, they help other people come to know that great love too.

So do Christians look different than others? They absolutely should. As a fellow Christ follower you should be able to be picked out of any crowd. If we can’t be identified from among the world at large then something is incredibly amiss, the proverbial candle has been placed under the basket. Matthew 5:16 says: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

So now, let others see you looking different, and when you are in a crowd, go ahead give it a try…just look for the Christians…and go be awesome!