Bertha, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church's morals, kept sticking her nose into other people's business. Most people did not approve of her gossiping, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.
One day Bertha began telling everyone that George, a new member of the church, was an alcoholic.
When George heard of this, he confronted Bertha and asked her how she had reached such a conclusion. Bertha replied that she had seen his pickup parked in front of the town's only bar for an entire afternoon. She emphatically told George that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing.
George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny ... he said nothing.
Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Bertha's house, walked home and left it there all night!
You gotta love George. I mean it, you gotta love George and Bertha.
Buried in the 13th chapter of Romans along with the instructions to respect authority and pay our taxes is the teaching that we are to:
"Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet;" and any other commandment, are summed up in these words, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
For those of us who claim the way of Jesus as ours, we need to be aware of the way we treat others. We have a responsibility to act in a way that builds up people around us and does not tear them down. Our faith is not just a matter of avoiding actions that cause harm, but actually doing those things that have a positive impact on the lives of others. In others words, we have a responsibility to love one another. The Evangelist John records that on the last night Jesus spent with his disciples, as he gave them the Last Supper and their final instructions, he taught them a new commandment that they should love one another. As Jesus has loved us, so we must love each other. We must put behind us the numerous times we have fallen short of this goal, and strive forward toward this new commandment.
So you see, for those of us who call ourselves Christians, we gotta love George, Bertha and all the rest of our neighbors. It's Jesus' way.
- Steve Howell is minister of adult education at Tonganoxie Christian Church.