From the Pastor’s Pen
‘Owe Nothing, Except…’
We had joined the throng of photo snapping onlookers hanging over the sternum high damp pipe rail looking down. Despite the soot sky that seemed perpetually temperamental just when we decided to walk about, the bears didn’t seem to care.
Deep in a cold stone pit that sunk down in the heart of the city, there were actual bears living and loving life. I can’t recall how many of them were present for our viewing, but I do have this distinct recollection that these Swiss bears seemed far more at ease than the ones back home.
And of course, like the proverbial hour hand that always always always strikes noon each day, we heard the dreaded words spill out once more from our mother’s mouth, “Let’s take a picture!” All my siblings and I could do was roll our eyes in silent protest. After close to a week of traveling and multiple failed coup attempts, there was no use in another mutiny. Mom was going to get her pictures.
So looking around to find someone to wind and shoot from her ‘Cheese It’ yellow Kodak disposable camera, (oh yes, we got the waterproof one just in case) we quickly discovered there was a mother-daughter duo some twenty feet away that also called Pinellas County, Florida home. Such surprising coincidences make this big globe feel much more like a decent sized neighborhood.
I’m sure each of you could probably write a whole book, if the memories would recall themselves at the right time, about your ‘small world’ moments. A friend of a new friend that you actually were close with way back in high school. That movie nobody remembers save for the spouse of your wife’s coworker at the house warming party last week. The seed sales pitch that turns into a game of how many restaurants you both have tried down in Indy.
This fantastic creation of God’s is in fact quite large. But it’s made far more accessible by the gift of being relational creatures. Beings bent toward one another by the grace and love of Jesus.
Nobody wants to admit it, because it sounds painfully pathetic, but many of us can and do feel lonely on a regular basis. The apostle Paul chimes in at this point in his long group text to some friends overseas in Italy, and says we, “[o]we no one anything, except to love one another;” (Romans 13:8).
We owe it to each other as Christians, as disciples of Jesus, as a new people defined by grace and not by some indifferent independence, to make this world a little smaller together. We owe it to our friends, to someone who’s just walked into our church for the first time and feels uncomfortable, to the greeter at Meijer, to the waitress at Ethan’s Restaurant, to that person you’re avoiding. We have a debt of love to pay.
You’ve probably heard me say this quote before, but sometimes it’s good to repeat Albert Einstein’s words for emphasis, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”. So let God anonymously love people through you this month. Let Jesus’ globe shrinking grace crease a smile across a sullen face you’ve never seen before. We owe it to each other, to ourselves, and most importantly, to Him. For nobody in the kingdom of heaven should feel lonely.