This is the third in a series on My Faith Journey.
As I mentioned yesterday, I attended church for thousands of hours from the time I was born until I went to college. But through all of the teaching and preaching I endured, one of the lessons I remember can be summarized in three simple words.
God is love.
God is love is the lesson I still carry close to my heart. Simple, clear, straightforward. God is love.
Not, God is hate. Not, God is about rules. Not, God is against you.
I learned that God loves the world, and I figured that meant everybody.
But I learned this lesson through the way people treated me, the way they loved. Yes, my parents loved me unconditionally, but my community did too.
I learned about love from persons like Marguerite Smith, Diane Martin, and Mrs. Bobbie Thornell. I learned about it from Mrs. Strickland, Pat Stewart, and Worthy and Dot Seale. The list is long of the people who showed me what God is love meant at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
These persons loved me through my grief when my mother died when I was ten when I thought God had abandoned me. Long, tight hugs, words of encouragement, listening ears, and invitations to sit with them in church with their arms around me. Others tutored me after school, and cooked for me and my family. But this church lesson wasn’t restricted to people I knew from the four walls of the church building.
Persons from outside our church who lived on North Anton Drive and in the neighborhood taught me this valuable lesson. The Hope family took me to the lake with them to ride in the boat, swim, and fish. The Eley family lived across the street and treated me like their own son. The Kenmore’s and the Long’s, and the Wright’s and the Crumpton’s opened their homes to me. They all taught me about love by loving me.
On the other hand, I realize that some were not so fortunate. Some of you experienced judgment from the church. Others were rejected or shunned by neighbors. A few of you knew an unwelcoming community.
We are loved, you and me, whether we know it or not. Red and yellow, black and white, we are all precious in God’s sight.
Tell me about your experience growing up. Were you loved by persons outside your family, in your congregation, or in your community?
Love is a spark. Pass it on.