For Jesus’ Sake

The greatest spiritual truths sometimes come, as they say, out of the mouths of babes. Here's a story about a group of youngsters who taught their pastor a lesson about Christian unity. And it's a good lesson for us all. The church was Shively Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and the pastor was Dave Stone. Every year Pastor Stone kept the youth group busy with a summer-long Bible study, along with a church softball league. The youth group at Shively Christian maintained a fierce rivalry with a neighboring church that likewise participated in the softball league: Shively Baptist. They were determined to out-do the kids at Shively Baptist at softball--and everything else. So Pastor Stone was completely unprepared for what happened one evening during the weekly Bible study. The theme for the lesson was how to be a servant. And the text was John 13, where Jesus takes on a job that in the 1st century was relegated to slaves: He washed the disciples' feet. As Pastor Stone talked, he found himself wondering how to make the idea of servanthood real for a group of 20th-century kids. I have it, he thought. He divided the kids into groups and told them to go out and find a way to be servants. "I want you to be Jesus in the city of Louisville tonight," he told them. "If Jesus were here, what would He do? How would He help people?" The kids dispersed into carpool groups and drove through the neighborhood. Two hours later, they reconvened in Pastor Stone's living room to report what they had come up with. One group said they had done yard work for an elderly man. Another group bought ice cream treats and delivered them to several widows in the church. A third group went out and bought a get-well card and visited a church member in the hospital. Still another group went to a nursing home and sang Christmas carols--yes, Christmas carols, in the middle of August. One resident, who was very old, remarked that it was the warmest Christmas she could remember. But when the fifth group stood up and reported what they had done, everybody groaned. This group had made its way to another church--to none other than their arch-rival, Shively Baptist. The pastor there sent them to the home of an elderly woman who needed yard work done. So for their form of service, the group mowed grass, raked leaves, and trimmed hedges. When they were getting ready to leave, the woman called the group of young people together. She prayed with them and thanked them for their hard work. "I don't know how I could get along without you," she told them. "You kids at Shively Baptist are always coming to my rescue." "Shively Baptist!" interrupted Pastor Stone. "Oh no, she got it all wrong. Now she thinks it was kids at Shively Baptist who helped her out. I sure hope you set her straight and told her you were from Shively Christian Church." The kids looked up at their youth pastor with wide eyes. "Why no, we didn't," they said. "We really didn't think it mattered." And, of course, it didn't. It didn't matter whether an act of kindness was done in the name of this church or that church. What mattered was that it was done in the name of Jesus.  


Chuck Colson



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