By Stuart Swartzentruber
Recently I sat in a Sunday service at New Hope Fellowship in Thunder Bay listening to a new Christian describe what drew him to follow Jesus. He said that he saw happiness and passion when individuals talked about Jesus. As he became part of the group, he observed how people took care of, prayed, and shared love with one another. He said, “I saw Jesus from looking at you. When I talk to you, I see Jesus’ personality in you.” I can think of no greater affirmation for a church than that comment! I was overwhelmed with gratefulness at that moment for the privilege of belonging to this local expression of the body of Christ.
We live in a time when division and polarization are everywhere. In Canada, troublesome issues range from vaccination opinions and the roles of government to the right response to ongoing Residential School findings. (Where can I really find a reliable news source?) Suspicion and mistrust seems to be all around us. There are many reasons for giving in to grief, anger, distrust, disdain or despair, and those things are begging to be embraced. Unity in many relationships is tenuous.
The message of hope and the Good News of Jesus are needed more than ever. I have great hope as I witness restored relationships and forgiveness occurring in local settings. I see unity in the body of Christ being chosen as more important than sectarian opinions. I see legitimate differences paling in comparison to the Kingdom of Christ as His followers choose to love one another as brothers and sisters.
In February I drove with some friends on a winter road to an isolated community that was still struggling with COVID cases. We sat in our vehicle with windows open at -20C and a truck on either side, praying for one another and for unity in the churches and the community. What a powerful thing unity is among Jesus followers! No wonder Jesus said that the unity and love of His followers would convince the world that He was the Creator incarnate! (John 17)
I am grateful for men like Goyce and Jim, whose friendships reached far beyond their own circles. I pray that we would follow their examples and allow the character of Jesus to shine out brightly to all who come in contact with us. May many people say about our churches, “I saw Jesus from looking at you.”