So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
-1 Corinthians 10:31
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
- James 2:26
A few weeks ago I heard an inspiring story from my parents. On July 4th, they decided to dust off their old fishing poles for a outdoor fishing date at a local park in Pennsylvania. Despite the busy holiday, they were able to find a beautiful, quiet fishing spot away from the crowds to enjoy time with each other and see if anything was biting.
Before long, a young man walked over, coming from the nearby picnic area. After stopping to watch them, he began to talk fishing a bit and asked if he could look through my father’s tackle box. As time went on, my mother started asking him a few questions about himself. He shared a little about his relationship with his family (not so great). He also asked questions about them. When he found out that my parents had been married for more than 4 decades, he told them that was his life goal. And then, as the conversation continued, something really beautiful happened. He noticed an extra fishing pole lying on the ground beside the tackle box. It only took a moment before he was invited to use it and cast along with them for a while. He felt loved.
And in one small pocket of creation, the kingdom of God was at hand.
In hindsight, my dad wasn’t particularly sure why they had even packed a third pole. It was never their actual intention to invite someone to join them. But along came a lonely young man in need of connection, and a new plan became necessary. Because that’s what disciples do. They are always open to holy interruptions. Sometimes those are small and momentary. Other times they are long-term and costly.
As disciples of Jesus, our hope is that our own hearts will reflect Jesus’ heart each day, and that our actions will reflect Jesus’ actions each day. This is the meaning of discipleship. We are formed internally in the way of Jesus, so that others might also join into this everlasting life. If this is truly our hope, then we must understand several things:
Opportunities to be shaped by Jesus are all over the place.
And opportunities to reveal the love of Jesus to others are equally abundant.
Following Jesus isn’t something that we turn on and off depending on our schedule. It’s an identity, a state of being, and it involves being aware of the little places that we can be agents of God’s love in our world. Spoiler alert: That’s everywhere.
What if bringing an extra pole became a mindset in the lives of Christians? What if we walked around ready to be radically inclusive of outsiders? What if we went through our days understanding that little acts of love add up over time, and can transform people’s lives and turn them toward Jesus? What if our compassion and hospitality is so compelling and beautiful that people can’t help but ask why we live in such a unique way?
These are great times to for a spiritual check-in with Jesus…
Does every person I run into feel like an inconvenience to me?
Am I looking to the Spirit with eyes to see opportunities to practice Jesus’ love?
There are many different ways to bring an extra pole with you as you go. Take a moment to consider what it could look like this week for you.
Jesus, shape us. Give us eyes to see.